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To accommodate rapidly growing staff, Explorys moves into former museum space in Cleveland

Explorys - Bob Perkoski

When entrepreneurs Charlie Lougheed and Stephen McHale formed Explorys back in 2009, it was with the vision of providing superior data management so medical professionals could deliver better patient care and affordable diagnoses. The company, which was spun out of the Cleveland Clinic, offers a secure software platform that allows healthcare systems to summarize, analyze and manage data.

The technology was developed by a physician with an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering, Anil Jain, who partnered with two entrepreneurs.

“It was the perfect combination and a metaphor of where we want to see this region go," explains Christopher Coburn, executive director of Cleveland Clinic Innovations. "Explorys is a great example of what can happen in Cleveland.”

Lougheed says the technology simply filled a need.
“We always talked about applying BIG data to healthcare, and the timing was just right,” he explains. “By the time we formed the company, medicine had already entered a ‘perfect storm’ of unsustainable cost increases, mass proliferation of electronic medical records, and rising expectations of higher quality and cost efficiency among consumers and payers. Combined with the growing need of healthcare systems to leverage their data to survive and thrive, it was clear to us that this represented a huge opportunity to help do some real good in the world."

Today, Explorys boasts one of the most powerful healthcare databases in the world and is one of the largest providers of broadband quality and usage analytics software. The Cleveland-based company currently has more than 80 employees and is expected to climb to between 110 and 125 by next year, says Lougheed.

The staff keeps growing because business is booming. In addition to six major healthcare providers, including Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Summa Health System, MetroHealth, St. Joseph Health System and MedStar, the company added four additional providers -- Catholic Health Partners, Iowa Health System, Venture Health and Legacy Health -- for a total of 13 integrated health systems serving 31 million patients.

“And we’ve continued to expand with the customers we already have,” boasts Lougheed. “We had a great year, and this year is shaping up to be just as busy -- maybe even a little more.”

It’s all thanks to BIG data. In fact, to date Explorys has processed more than 85 billion clinical and interpretive data facts.

“To us, BIG data is data that has high volume, high velocity and a lot of variety,” Lougheed explains. “It’s important to be timely and process that data quickly. And it has to be interpreted, harmonized and standardized. And healthcare has a lot of variety in terms of other industries.”

The company continues to expand its product lines. In 2012, Explorys launched new solutions to its Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) package of applications that help customers identify gaps in services and improve patient care. “We’ve provided that infrastructure and technology to reach out to those patients,” explains Lougheed. “We’re seeing patterns in the market and we’re using those patterns to develop new products.”
Explorys has grown so substantially that in November the company moved into the former MOCA space on Carnegie Avenue, which was purchased four years ago by the Clinic along with the rest of the Cleveland Playhouse complex.
“The focus was on trying to provide Explorys with high quality space that is close to the Clinic campus,” Coburn says of the move. “We had the desire to keep them in close orbit with the Clinic.”
Lougheed is thrilled with the new digs. “It’s a really cool environment with hardwood floors and wide-open spaces conducive to collaborative thought,” he says. “It has an innovative and artistic vibe that lines up well with our culture.”
The former gallery space has been modified and modernized to suit their needs. Dropped ceilings reduce echoes from the hardwood floors. Additional office and conference spaces were constructed. And the power system received a much-needed upgrade.
And the timing could not have been better. “We were busting out over there,” says Lougheed of their former space. “This kind of gives us our space to move and grow, and the other spaces in the complex give us room to grow into."
Explorys’ path is precisely what Cleveland Clinic Innovations envisions for its companies: Launch them and then keep them close. “It’s exactly what the Innovations building is,” says Coburn. “We get these things launched and when they take flight, they’re not going to go too far.”
The extra space will allow Explorys to better focus on its most crucial component: its staff.
“Our most important asset walks in and out of the door every day,” says Lougheed. “Being mindful of people’s career goals and supporting them, we have to nurture our employees and make sure they grow with the company.”
And according to Lougheed, there isn't a better place to do that nurturing than in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.
“This is our home and we love this community,” he says. “We think it has a lot to offer and I wouldn’t pick another place."

Photos Bob Perkoski

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