San Diego Health IT Startup, Cognitive Medical Systems, Recruits DefenseWeb CEO

Xconomy San Diego — 

Cognitive Medical Systems, a previously unknown health IT startup based in San Diego, is today naming local software industry veteran Douglas Burke as president—and employee No. 4.

Burke, who was previously the CEO of San Diego-based DefenseWeb Technologies, announced the move in an e-mail blast to his professional contacts yesterday.

Mary Lacroix, a longtime health IT executive and chief operating officer for the U.S. Navy’s Center For Personal and Professional Development in San Diego, founded Cognitive Medical Systems here last year. The company says it provides a range of services to military health IT programs, including consulting, program administration, project management, software engineering, and database design. The San Diego startup is not related to Cogmed Cognitive Medical Systems AB, based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The idea was to help the government bridge the disparate health IT systems that have been created under various military programs, Lacroix said. “We’re creating software interfaces between existing legacy systems and all the providers,” she said. The company says it is primarily targeting the Department of Defense, Veteran’s Administration, and Indian Health Service as customers.

“Healthcare [IT] today is very similar to the banking systems of the 1970s,” says Burke (right). “There are lots of legacy systems that are not connected together.” The startup’s software is intended to meet interoperability requirements the government has been establishing since 2008 for the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN). The government conceived the NHIN to operate as a “network of networks” that will connect different organizations that need to exchange health information, such as state and regional health information exchanges, integrated delivery systems, health plans, federal agencies, and others. A number of federal agencies have been working to adopt standards-based technologies and integrate military health IT systems into the NHIN.

Cognitive Medical Systems has been self-funded so far. “In my opinion, the only way to build a company these days is by doing it the bootstrapping way,” Burke said.

Burke, an enterprise software executive, joined DefenseWeb as CEO in 2003 and continued to manage the business after Louisville, KY-based Humana acquired the privately held company for an undisclosed amount in 2007. He was previously the CEO of San Diego-based Prodesis, and served as an executive at HNC Software and SAIC. Operating under a variety of government contracts, DefenseWeb provides Web-based software and online services for military families, enabling them to form online communities, share information, exchange e-mail, and get online counseling, among other things.

Tim McClain, president and CEO of Humana Veterans Healthcare Services in Louisville, KY, has been named as DefenseWeb’s interim CEO.

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