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The health care IT company that fixes problems before they occur

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In the early 2000s, not long after the dot com bubble burst, the government began pushing the medical community to digitize their records. The idea was to make the system more efficient in the hopes that the efficiency would bring down costs.

John O'Keefe saw an opportunity. He had recently left Fine Point Technologies, a company he founded, and was looking for his next venture. So, in 2005, he launched ITelagen, an information technology company focused on preventing IT problems before they occur.

At first it was just O'Keefe, who put six figures into the company to get it started, and three others working day and night to convince potential clients ITelagen could help their bottom lines. They made presentation after presentation, eventually landing their first big client — a major medical group in Manhattan — in 2006.

"That summer, I didn't go anywhere because we worked on projects every weekend to help fund the growth of the business," said O'Keefe, who is the chief executive officer of ITelagen. "Every successful entrepreneur owes a little bit of that success to luck, but you make your own luck — and open your own doors — by putting in the work to get there."

Lucky or not, the company was profitable within a year. And, it weathered the 2008 recession, even though several of its traditional IT clients folded. O'Keefe attributes ITelagen's resilience to the fact that it had momentum in the health care market.

While the company continued to serve clients in other industries, ITelagen had found a niche that helped it to thrive. At the same time, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, which was signed into law in 2009, was pushing health care providers to adopt electronic records. Up until that point, there had been much resistance.

"The medical field went from being like the Flinstones one day and then very high tech the next," O'Keefe said. "The sudden change wasn't because the physicians wanted to have electronic medical records. It was the fact that the world around them was — and still is — changing so rapidly."

ITelagen prospered because it offered a unique blend of services. The company's staff will install, manage, host and support a medical office's electronic records. That full range combined with ITelagen's emphasis on support automation has helped the company grow close to 200 percent. From 2010 to 2013, ITelagen's revenue jumped from $3.5 million to $10.4 million. Today, the company brings in closer to $15 million.

Looking forward to the next few years, one of ITelegan's main goals is to hit $50 million in revenues. Much of that growth will happen through the acquisition of similar companies that work in the health care IT market.

"Over the past nine years, we've grown organically," O'Keefe said. "This next stage will take us even further."

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