Dr. Robert Moghim, a practicing anesthesiologist, was tired of being treated like a commodity. So in 2005, he founded Onyx M.D. to create a physician staffing company that was more mindful of how it positioned its talent. As an alternative, his company offers “concierge staffing services” that fill highly specialized temporary positions and provides its physicians amenities that range from malpractice insurance to travel assistance for long-distance placements.
An indispensible part of servicing its up to 200 placements per month and supporting ongoing growth of approximately 26 percent a year over the last three years is Jamal Pilger, senior vice president of software development. He came to Onyx M.D. in 2008 and provides a wealth of experience, expertise, and insight from two decades working with Internet-based business solutions.
When The Web Was On Training Wheels
Pilger started his first online business in 1995. It focused on creating websites for car dealerships and real-estate firms. “At that time most of our sales were based around trying to convince potential customers that the Internet wasn’t just a passing fad and would be around for a while,” he says.
Even at that time, when development tools were limited, he was building data-driven software and websites relying on ColdFusion and Microsoft Access. For one high-end real-estate firm that wanted custom websites for all its properties, his company was spending four hours creating each individual site. “Eventually we challenged ourselves to streamline the process so that the client could upload images, import MLS data, and create a custom site in fifteen minutes or less,” Pilger says. “In the late 1990s, that meant we really were ahead of our time.”
“Things like glasses that project a virtual screen right in front of you are really exciting. But from a business perspective, if your target audience doesn’t wear those glasses, you might want to look through a different lens.”
Building A Strong Foundation
When Pilger came to Onyx M.D., his mission was to create a solid technical framework for the company. It had no centralized network, but since then he has created a 100 percent Cloud-based infrastructure—except for the telephone system—along with dozens of proprietary applications that address the many complexities of health-care staffing, such as licensing requirements that vary from state to state, site-specific privileging requirements, nonstandardized shift lengths, and handling multiple rate sets.
One suite of applications, for example, provides in-house staff with a CRM solution in a datebook format that automatically tracks open placements, assignment extensions, and available personnel. It also calculates rates in real time, creates an auditable history of the placement, and tracks any changes that occur to the job order along the way. Finally, the solution automatically populates other forms and applications with any shared data.
Pilger’s success at streamlining and integrating various internal processes has also created a wealth of metrics for managing employees, identifying key performance indicators, historical trends, and improving the accuracy of “what-if” analyses. “The kind of real-time visibility we’ve created has really helped strengthen our culture of accountability and enabled us to make more informed business decisions in real time,” he says.
A Healthy Future
The advent of telemedicine, wearable health monitors, and greater focus on the roles of physician assistants and nurse practitioners are all innovations and issues that could impact Onyx M.D.’s business in the near future. Pilger prefers, however, to focus on further internal innovations, like an extranet-based client facing portal or automatic texts to physicians on workdays that include links to their online timecards with reminders to submit their hours.
When asked what he thinks of the current explosion of technology innovations, he responds from a perspective steeped in years of having witnessed countless hits and flops. “Things like glasses that project a virtual screen right in front of you are really exciting,” Pilger says. “But from a business perspective, if your target audience doesn’t wear those glasses, you might want to look through a different lens.”
With the current explosive pace of innovation, appropriately identifying your audience will ultimately determine whether or not the latest technical development is appropriate for your business.