Brightree puts $50M to work

Monday, May 24, 2010

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - Brightree plans to spend $50 million over the next four years beefing up its HME product offerings. What's on the front burner for all that dough? A new software platform for home infusion providers, say company officials.

"We have an increasing number of our providers in the infusion market, and we felt like the time was right to make an official significant investment to support infusion," said Mark Blount, vice president of marketing.

By Brightree's reckoning, the home infusion market holds tremendous promise. The company estimates the current infusion market at about $11 billion a year and projects it to grow to $16 billion by 2012.

Brightree recently hired Mark Kliethermes to head up development of its home infusion product, which the Internet-based software company expects to roll out sometime next year. Kliethermes is a pharmacist and software developer who has worked in the home infusion market since 1984.

"It is still a lot cheaper to go home and get these services as opposed to staying in the hospital," Kliethermes said. "Many times patients won't even hit the hospital. They'll start at home and by-pass the need to be hospitalized."

What's more, he said, while home infusion's profitability isn't as high as it was in the 1980s, it's "still pretty high compared to some of the other (HME) services."

Home infusion offers HME providers an opportunity to diversify their product and service mix, but it also requires significant clinical know-how. A staff pharmacist is a must, Kliethermes said.

"It takes special knowledge, and you have to bring that in if you don't have it already," he said.

In addition to developing a home infusion offering, Brightree plans to reinvest a good chunk of its $50 million enhancing its services and products, and possibly making some acquisitions, Blount said.

"We didn't know what to expect going into 2009, what with all the cuts and caps and on top of that the recession, but we had a record year," he said. "We found out in talking to provider after provider that it was those things that lead them to know that they had to make a move if they were going to survive."