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Sequest Goes After the Big Game
November 2006

Giant Universal Health Launches Sequest Test at Atlanta’s Peachford Behavioral Health System

Over the past several years, Sequest Technologies has distinguished itself as among the fastest growing and most prominent purveyors of information technology products to the addiction treatment industry, signing deals with scores of top players, including the Hanley Center, Marworth and Seabrook House, among many others.

All told, Sequest has nearly doubled its client base over the last three years and now counts nearly 90 clients in the hotly competitive addiction and behavioral health IT space. There are now nearly 20 IT firms slugging it out in addiction and behavioral health, all attempting to fill the huge need for IT that exists within the two closely related industries, where annual revenues are now likely approaching $150 billion.

And while Sequest has made a bit of a specialty of addiction treatment centers in recent years, and CEO Bill Connors insists that Sequest still “wants all that business,” competition, particularly in the addiction treatment IT space, has heated up dramatically in recent months. Sigmund Software has swooped in with big wins and big respect for its product, while brand new players like Valley Hope and Celerity have emerged. It is therefore perhaps not surprising that Sequest is now hunting bigger game in its quest to supersize its growth rate, and a recent contract with behavioral health giant Universal Health Services, among the nation’s largest hospital management companies, may provide just the ticket Sequest needs, having the potential as the contract does to double the size of the company if all goes well.

Certainly, UHS is very big game indeed for any IT player targeting behavioral health, with over 100 psychiatric and addiction facilities, as well as therapeutic schools and programs, listed on its web site, and a bed capacity in the thousands.

“We did a highly exhaustive search looking for the right behavioral health IT partner,” says Peter Hall, manager of clinical applications at UHS. “We really left no stone unturned, and Sequest came out on top.”

Hall says that UHS will initially be rolling out Sequest’s technology, which Connors says will be about 80 percent Sequest off-the-shelf and about 20 percent customized especially for UHS, at a flagship UHS behavioral health facility in Atlanta called Peachford Behavioral Health System. With nearly 200 beds, Peachford is one of the nation’s largest freestanding specialty behavioral health hospitals, treating all ages for everything from addiction to acute psychiatric disorders.

“We are expecting to go live with the system at Peachford in June,” says Connors, adding that Sequest will then work with UHS in helping rollouts at several other facilities. “The goal in the end is that UHS will then be able to roll out the system at institutions on its own, with its IT staff handling that,” says Connors. “Obviously, it is more expensive for the client if we are involved each time with installation and extensive customizations. We want to get UHS to the point where they do that, and we are just involved with licensing the product as well as providing the routine support.”

Among the medical IT heavyweights that Sequest beat out in its quest for the UHS deal were such players as Eclipsys, Meditech, Angel Systems and Sequest’s arch behavioral health competitor Netsmart Technologies,which has nearly 1,200 behavioral health industry clients, much of which are state and county mental heath systems and 140 of which are specialty addiction treatment facilities. “Sequest won out because they were the most comprehensive for what we needed,” says Hall. “And the feedback from their existing clients on customer service and support was just very, very good.” According to Hall, the Sequest system will be rolled out at several other UHS behavioral health facilities starting later in 2007 in a second phase of the Sequest UHS test. If all goes well, Hall anticipates a rollout throughout more than 80 UHS hospitals and residential centers.

A rollout of that size would put Sequest in an entirely new class of behavioral health IT vendors, vaulting the company into the very front ranks of IT providers to the private side of the mental health and addiction treatment industries. “There is no doubt that this would be a tremendous boost to our reputation and would give our sales and marketing efforts with large behavioral health entities greatly added credibility,” says Connors. Another area Sequest has targeted for growth, which also has a strong element of addiction treatment, is on providing IT services to the medical, addiction and behavioral health divisions of correctional facilities throughout the nation. “This is an area that is even more lacking in IT than the addiction treatment and behavioral health industries,” says Connors. Sequest signed its first corrections deal recently with Mikwaukee’s sheriff, providing IT services to the Milwaukee County House of Corrections. “Corrections is a highly underserved niche that we are very definitely targeting as an area of substantial growth for the future,” says Connors. PD

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