A medical technology startup that has the bulk of its employees in Charleston has been acquired by a larger company in a deal announced this week.
PokitDok, founded in 2011, employs 55 workers. According to Tuesday's announcement, Nashville-based Change Healthcare will purchase the "intellectual property and other key assets," including "the PokitDok team."
Charleston native Ted Tanner is a co-founder of PokitDok with Lisa Maki, who stepped down from her role as CEO in 2017 and handed leadership over to former insurance executive Joe Murad.
Maki, Murad and the company were based in California, but most PokitDok employees worked from Charleston. They had raised more than $50 million in investments, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Specific details of the acquisition were vague in the announcement, and neither PokitDok nor Change Healthcare responded to requests for comment.
The founders' idea was to connect various systems across the health care sector — hospitals, pharmacies, doctor's offices — and streamline the flow of patient information between them.
This has been a challenge because of the use of different record-keeping systems. The problem has stumped the health industry for years, especially after President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package required all practitioners to use electronic records or pay a fine.
In the last couple of years, PokitDok waded into the world of blockchain, calling its technology DokChain. Though blockchain is often associated with cryptocurrency, it has other applications. PokitDok proposes exchanging health information using blockchain, which is considered to be secure because no single entity has control over it.
The firm's argument for the technology hinges on the idea that the health care system is wasteful, and it can make it more efficient using blockchain. Doing so, PokitDok's chief scientist wrote, could save the industry potentially billions of dollars.
The company's new owner is already using blockchain in claims management and contracts and plans to incorporate PokitDok's technology. According to its own information, Change Healthcare reaches 5,500 hospitals, 900,000 physicians and 33,000 pharmacies.
The company is majority-owned by health care industry giant McKesson, which sells pharmaceuticals, wholesale products and technology services.
"This acquisition is about practical innovation to create a more connected, transparent and efficient healthcare system where patients control their own information," Kris Joshi, a Change Healthcare executive, said in a statement Tuesday.