Tech pair strikes virtual gold
You probably can’t pronounce their last names, but physicians across Canada know about Jason Kerkvliet, right, and Daniel Pfingstgraef because of their business, MMD Data Systems. Their data collection and management software has won the young entrepreneurs work with doctors from Ontario to British Columbia, and everywhere between.
Two years ago, a pair of young entrepreneurs moved into the upstairs of a little office building in St. Thomas and accidentally created go-to custom management software for physicians across Canada. It sounds unbelieveable. The way they tell it, nothing could have been easier.
MMD Data Systems was starting by Jason Kerkvliet and Daniel Pfingstgraef, a pair of young savants from St. Thomas with a healthy interest in software development. Of the two Kerkvliet is the brighter and more engaging, the eternal optimist; Pfingstgraef is quieter and more meticulous, more down-toearth. They’ve been friends for years, and have been programming even longer.
“We’ve been sort of doing this forever,” Kerkvliet said, laughing. “I think I built my first application to test stock-trading algorithms in grade six. That was never the hard part.”
The business began as part of an Elgin Small Business initiative. Kerkvliet and Pfingstgraef knew they wanted to start a business, so a few years ago they drew out a plan to build websites for local clients. Then a more captivating job fell into their laps and the pair shifted gears.
“Websites, they were interesting,” Kerkvliet said. “But with an EMR and a patient record system you can really do good, which is something we cared about a lot … this is definitely closer to the heart.”
That first job was with Elgin Audiology, a local company with a serious need for streamlined software. The Elgin Audiology job was only meant to be a one-time contract but then a physician in Winnipeg called, asking about the software.
Then more physicians from Winnipeg called, and within months MMD Data Systems had clients as far as Dawson Creek and Fort McMurray.
“A lot of it is word of mouth,” Kerkvliet said. “When a physician likes the product they’re using they tend to tell their friends about it … we have a model where physicians are very much members of our software as opposed to being customers.”
Physicians provide input themselves, feedback MMD uses to shape their software for each physician. It does their scheduling and billing; more importantly it’s where they keep medical records, anything from allergies to clinical notes.
It turns out Kerkvliet and Pfingstgraef were on the edge of a gold mine. They had a service physicians were looking for, and were willing to pay good money to get. Within a year they hired two more developers, eventually building their specialized team to six people, themselves included.
It’s the same office, and the same local presence — Elgin Audiology still uses their service — but now they’re on a national stage.
And yes: they built their own website.
“It’s been a wild ride,” Kerkvliet said. “It’s going really well.”
Kerkvliet and Pfingstgraef have clients all across Canada, including locally in the Elgin-St. Thomas and London area. They still operate out of a little office in St. Thomas above their first client, Elgin Audiology.