The software success of Modernizing Medicine
Founders: Dan Cane, Dr. Michael Sherling
2018 Revenue: $144.9 million
Growth 2016-18: 65.6%
In 2009, Dan Cane went in for a routine physical with an internist in Lake Worth. He got a clean bill of health, but the internist noted his tanned skin and referred him to a dermatologist, Dr. Michael Sherling, for a checkup. Several days later, Cane was sitting on an exam table in front of Sherling, grousing about all the paperwork he had filled out between the two appointments.
“The entire experience from the doctor to the medical assistant to the front desk was analog. It was paper, more paper, more paper,” Cane recalled last year on a podcast with Alejandro Cremades, an entrepreneur consultant in New York. “So here I am in a paper gown talking to a doctor about why he isn’t using technology and is there an opportunity. He starts flipping back in my charts like, ‘Who is this kid?’ ”
Sherling, a Harvard- and Yale-educated doctor, would soon learn that Cane had built a billion-dollar education software company and was looking for a new challenge. “We hit it off, and he became my co-founder” in Modernizing Medicine, Cane says.
Cane, 43, grew up in Lake Worth. His father, Edward, was a local internist, and his mom, Marilyn, was a law professor at Nova Southeastern University. He graduated from Lake Worth High School and went to Cornell University, his parents’ alma mater.
In a statistics class his sophomore year, Cane noticed he couldn’t follow the professor and take notes at the same time. With the professor’s help, he created a course website where students could find lecture material, readings, notes and grades online. Before long, other professors at Cornell were asking him to create similar websites for their classes. He charged a small fee and persuaded his housemates to help scan and post course information online.
“We measured success based on the type of keg we would be able to have. We went from Beast to Rolling Rock and then to Sam Adams, and that’s when we started to really get excited,” he said last November in a presentation to business students at Cornell. “Pretty soon, the tools got good enough that we turned them over to the professors and TAs to use.” One semester later, other universities began licensing their technology.
In 1997, their company, then called CourseInfo, merged with a KPMG spinoff also focused on education technology to form Washington, D.C.-based Blackboard. In 2004, Blackboard went public. And in 2011, it was sold to a private equity firm in Providence, R.I., for $1.6 billion. “It was a good financial exit for me, my original investors and friends,” says Cane, who wouldn’t divulge his personal take. By the time
Cane met Sherling, he had left Blackboard and moved to South Florida. (Meanwhile, he also had launched a social-networking site called Kadoo that failed.) When Cane asked Sherling why he was still writing notes in paper charts, Sherling explained that the software then available didn’t work well and slowed him down.
“He was seeing 40, 50, 60 patients a day, and technology that slowed him down wasn’t welcome,” Cane says. “I thought I would help him find the right technology.”
In the process, Cane realized Sherling was “absolutely right” — even the best medical records software was inadequate. “Companies that were doing it didn’t fully understand the needs and complexities of specialty markets. They had built themselves as one-sizefits- everyone, which means they didn’t fit anyone particularly well, especially specialists.”
In 2010, Cane and Sherling founded Modernizing Medicine, a software company that develops electronic medical records systems for dermatologists and other specialists across the U.S.