Johns Hopkins backs technology startup Mx.com
Johns Hopkins Medicine is placing its skill, reputation and money behind a technology startup that seeks to allow hospitals and health systems to sell internally developed programs and solutions to other hospitals or systems seeking such expertise.
The Baltimore-based academic medical center and four-hospital health system has agreed to participate as a seller in the healthcare marketplace, MX.com, and as part of that also has become a financial investor in the company that runs the enterprise.
Johns Hopkins officials view its relationship with the company as more of a strategic opportunity than an investment, said Mark Shaver, senior director of business development and strategic alliances. “We really found (MX) to be an important opportunity that is very related to our mission,” which is centered on research, education and patient care, he said.
The general idea of MX is for hospitals and health systems to sell their knowledge and practices with others at steep discounts to what a hospital or system might pay. MX will assist selling institutions with packaging and pricing and will generally recommend but not require that prices be set at about a 75% discount to the commercially available price, said Joseph Davis, founder and chairman of the company.
Shaver said Johns Hopkins executives saw how a role as a strategic partner with the company made more sense than just selling its protocols and practices through the site. Johns Hopkins has a number of connections and relationships across the country and the globe in which the system might be able to assist in expanded use of the MX exchange. A hospital with which Johns Hopkins has a relationship in Panama, for example, might have a skill or a solution that it could sell to other Latin America facilities, and Johns Hopkins as a strategic partner might be able to aid in that process, he said.
An earlier healthcare investor in the company, Adventist Health System, Winter Park, Fla., also was impressed with the concept. “I think it’s an interesting strategy,” said Richard Reiner, an executive vice president for the 29-hospital system.
“Companies are going to have to figure out how to get access to good ideas,” he said, and through MX, “I think the whole industry can save money.”
Davis declined to say how much business has been transacted on the site, which launched in July, but said a total of roughly $7.5 million has been invested in the company.
Johns Hopkins as a matter of policy does not disclose the value of its investment, but Shaver made an exception to say that no executives are personal investors in MX.
Similarly, Reiner said it would be against system policy for an executive to invest personally in the company, but did say Adventist investment was relatively small, a few hundred thousand dollars.