CEO Mark Pulido of Ability Network is one health care industry boss who doesn’t seem to sweat political wrangling over America’s health care system.

“We’re poised to help customers regardless of the environment … of the changing political and regulatory environment,” Pulido said recently. “Our business is to help payers and providers simplify [a complex system].

“Change is something you have to stay in front of. It’s exhilarating.”

Ability is a low-profile, Minneapolis-based software company of 600-plus employees that electronically links health care providers, from a solo doctor’s office to multilocation hospital systems, to payers, such as commercial insurers and Medicare.

Pulido said about half of the nations’ “sites of care,” including home health agencies and nursing homes use Ability’s “My Ability” online portal.

Ability’s mission is to help providers of all sizes simplify the administrative and clinical complexities of health care, Pulido said.

And that’s a tall order.

The company, which sells software and related analytical services on a monthly subscription basis, has received notice for its growth and expanding suite of software applications. It was named recently to the Forbes 2016 list of “The Cloud 100’’ for its Web-based payment-and-analytics systems.

It not only moves money electronically from one pocket to another, but provides applications that assure payment and regulatory compliance, clinical intelligence, financial and risk management.

Ability was founded in 2000 by a former 3M technologist who saw the need for an electronic highway between providers and payers as electronic health records started to emerge. And it’s looked like a superhighway in recent years as the landmark Affordable Care Act of 2010 accelerated the movement to electronic records.

Commensurately, Ability has grown from $15 million in revenue in 2011 to an estimated $150 million this year. Pulido, a former Big Pharma CEO, estimates the company is capturing about 10 percent of the “spend” in the space among competitors that include many regional companies, and do-it-yourself care providers.

Pulido asserts that Ability is the only national player focused on this business niche.

Ability’s growth has been fueled by private equity money since 2011. That has allowed it to develop rapidly, and organically. Some smaller and specialty-application players have thrown in with Ability.

Last month, for example, it acquired ShiftHound, a California-based healthcare labor-management application that tracks everything from scheduling to tracking required certifications, licenses and training.

In 2016, it bought G4Health, a revenue-cycle management provider for independent hospitals and doctor offices.

A trade publication, Health Care Finance News, considered the undisclosed-price acquisition critical because ShiftHound is considered a great workforce-system manager, and a tool for Ability customers who are coping with workforce shortages, staffing levels and related regulations.

Ability has added about 200 jobs over the last 16 months including 80 in Minneapolis.

Ability has plenty of expansion capital. In 2014, it was acquired for $550 million by the Boston private-equity firm Summit Partners. In August 2015, then-Ability CEO Mark Briggs retired. An energetic physicist in his 40s, Briggs was hired in 2011 by then-owners Lemhi Ventures and Bain Capital Ventures.

Summit Partners in 2015 turned to Pulido, 64, a semiretired Ability board member with Minnesota connections.

Pulido was living in California, where he owns a winery with his wife, Donna Walker, a former 3M employee. They moved to Minneapolis, a healthcare-IT hub. Pulido, a pharmacist, earned a graduate degree in pharmacy administration from the University of Minnesota. He works with 200 headquarters employees in Butler Square.

He also has big-company experience, although it ended abruptly.

Pulido resigned as CEO of huge McKesson of San Francisco in 1999 after several top managers were canned over an accounting scandal by executives at a healthcare IT firm McKesson acquired called HBO & Co.

The Wall Street Journal reported at the time that Pulido and his CFO were not involved in the accounting issue but the board held them responsible for misdeeds that occurred on their watch.

Pulido enjoys running a fast-grower that’s getting notice, such as making the Forbes “The Cloud 100” list of private cloud-computing companies in the world.

“We’re the best-of-breed application that works alongside electronic health records,” Pulido said, in explaining the company’s success and future. “The runway is long. And these are the best of times.”

“These are the companies to watch,” Byron Deeter, a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, told Forbes last month. “The Forbes Cloud 100 companies represent the very best private companies in cloud computing. We will see big initial public offerings and category killers emerge from this list as the cloud computing continues to propel the trillion-dollar software industry.”

Summit Partners typically hangs on to its portfolio companies for an average of five years before refinancing them, selling or taking them public.

 

Neal St. Anthony has been a Star Tribune business columnist and reporter since 1984. He can be contacted at nstanthony@startribune.com.