Aventura Adds $14M to Help Doctors Navigate Electronic Records

Whether or not doctors, nurses, or patients like it, electronic health records are here to stay, and computers are becoming ubiquitous in exam rooms. While the healthcare world adjusts, some software companies are taking the next step—making applications that improve the performance and usability of the first wave of digital systems.

One such company is Denver-based healthcare IT startup Aventura, which announced Monday it has closed a $14 million Series C round. Aventura makes workflow optimization software that medical practitioners and hospitals can use to make their other software manageable, so they can pay attention to patients and not the tangle of menus and windows on their computer screens.

Safeguard Scientifics (NYSE: SFE) and Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, the corporate VC arm of the pharmaceutical giant (NYSE: MRK), co-led the round. Safeguard’s Al Wiegman and Merck’s Joel Krikston have joined Aventura’s board. Excel Venture Management, HLM Venture Partners, and Memorial Care Innovation Fund reinvested in this round.

The new investment brings the total raised by Aventura since 2008 to around $30 million. While the company declined to disclose revenue figures, it did say revenue grew in 2014 by 51 percent over the previous year. Its major customers include Denver Health and MemorialCare Health System in California.

While based in Denver, Aventura has an office in Marlborough, MA. About 30 employees are split between the sites.

Aventura CEO John Gobron described the deal as an oversubscribed growth round backed by new strategic investors. The money will be used to expand the sales and marketing, business development, and customer service teams and to keep developing the software. He expects the company’s staff to grow by about 50 percent in the next year.

While Aventura specializes in health IT software, Gobron emphasizes it doesn’t develop software that creates and manages electronic medical records (EMRs)—essentially the digital version of the old paper chart each doctor compiles about a patient—or electronic health records (EHRs), which are the collection of EMRs from the multiple doctors, specialists, labs, and other facilities that treat a patient over a lifetime.

Instead, Aventura’s software works with those EHR systems to find and retrieve the critical information a doctor would need during a patient exam and present it as a simplified desktop. The benefit is it could save a lot of time (and frustration) during a visit and let physicians and nurses focus on patients, Gobron said.

Gobron said that while from “the high-level vantage point” electronic records look to be a powerful tool to track patient health, in practice “it’s a cumbersome job.” Aventura streamlines it by identifying users and their roles, their location within a facility and the device they are working on, and who they are treating. The software can then bring up the right information and screens on the desktop at the start of the visit so the doctor can get to work.

Aventura’s approach is similar to single sign-on and identity and access management software. Those applications give users a quick way to logon to multiple programs, which Aventura takes a step further by bringing them to the specific file or menu they need. Gobron said his company’s software even knows where to put the cursor so a nurse or doctor can begin taking notes.

While right now Aventura helps navigate EHR systems, Gobron said the software also can integrate other applications that could identify potential drug interactions or use big data to suggest possible diagnoses.

Healthcare IT is a multi-billion dollar industry, and the federal government has spent $36 billion to encourage doctors to start using digital records. It’s a profound shift in the way the industry works that’s caused a lot of disruption and consternation.

“A lot of these companies are coming up for air,” Gobron said. That creates an opportunity for Aventura as those potential customers look for ways to improve how they use the software. The company estimates hospitals now will spend about $1.3 billion on workflow optimization software.

If Aventura succeeds with healthcare, Gobron said he envisions it moving into other industries that have complex workflow issues.

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