When Jay Galván Heneghan and her husband, psychiatrist James Heneghan, moved to New Mexico, the latter planned to practice rural medicine. The couple ended up founding a medical software company.
Galván Heneghan had grown up in southern New Mexico. She wanted to return to the state after James Heneghan finished his residency and post-doc in New Orleans. Her husband, who treats both adults and youth, wanted to practice rural medicine, but practically, this meant he was "driving all over kingdom come"—some days beginning the day in Las Cruces and then driving to Raton the following morning. The couple had three small children and needed to find a more sustainable way for Heneghan to practice. He began working with various agencies to treat patients via telehealth—two-way-video. Psychiatrists are in high demand, Galván Heneghan notes, and "the ones that are trained with kids and adolescents are even harder to come by." Increasing capacity via telehealth was "a win-win for the agencies and for us," she says. It also made having a system that could coordinate care even more crucial.
There were other systems in the market at the time, she says, "that handled pediatric medicine, or that were meant just for therapy or just for med management, but there was nothing that did all of that stuff really well." So, "we just decided to build something."
Working with technology manager Andres Paglayan, whom the couple knew at the time as a fellow parent, they founded EMR-Bear in 2009. A "software as a service" product—known in the industry as SaaS—EMR-Bear provides its clients with an integrated records system for everything from scheduling to insurance to patient records. The framework was built with the software Ruby on Rails. "Ruby is a really agile platform," Galván Heneghan says, "and frankly, so is behavioral health and health care in general: It's fluid … and always a moving target, so it was important that we build a system that could adapt easily to that."
Soon, the agencies Heneghan was working with started to adopt EMR-Bear for their own use, and the company subsequently added functionality. "It took on a life of its own … and now it's what it is today," says Galván Heneghan, EMR-Bear's CEO.
Today, EMR-Bear is used by nearly 50 agencies in New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and Idaho. While the company has grown, Galván Heneghan says an important part of its success has been remaining focused and providing personalized client service. "Technology has this way of inciting us to do what we can, to do all of things technology can do. … It's a strong pull for someone who is in love with technology and who is an entrepreneur." But, she adds, entrepreneurs are better served by remaining strategically focused and growing sustainably.
Heneghan will share the company's origin story and other takeaways as a tech entrepreneur in Santa Fe at Kick-Ass Entrepreneurs of Santa Fe's April 4 Entrepreneur Storytime.
Melanie Lenci founded the series in January 2018, after moving to Santa Fe two years prior and immediately jumping into the entrepreneurial community. In addition to attending numerous events, such as Startup Santa Fe's previous gatherings, Lenci also had vetted two of her own startup ideas through the Santa Fe Business Incubator. Lenci had previously worked as a writer in the communications field, and was largely driven to start the Entrepreneur Storytime series through her own desire to learn more from local businesses.
"I like hearing the stories behind a business, behind a venue: How did someone get here? It makes me attached. It makes me want to send someone there. It makes me want to buy from that person. When I know the person, I can attach to something behind a place, or a service; it makes me want to talk about it, and I like sharing that with others."
Lenci is working in collaboration with New Mexico Tech Works' Community Learning Network to bring a version of the program into Santa Fe Public Schools. "We want to inspire kids to see another career options," she says, "to help them see an option to keep their talents right here in New Mexico, by bringing some of the dynamic and cooler stories into the classrooms."
And those stories, Lenci notes, are plentiful. She receives ongoing ideas from the growing audience for the events. "There's just so much going on in the entrepreneur community," she says. "There's so much energy."
Entrepreneur Storytime: EMR-Bear
6:30 pm Thursday April 4. Free. Agave Lounge, Eldorado Hotel and Spa, 309 W San Francisco St., 988-4455; entrepreneurstorytime.com