Volume 24 , Number 42
October 14, 2002 -October 20, 2002

Consulting, technology firms team up with nonprofit foundation
Goal to provide ease of healthcare in schools

Elizabeth Kirkland     MBJ Staff Writer

Last April working in collaboration with Ridgeland-based Prominent Technologies, Cornerstone Consulting Inc., began developing the software that would be used to help provide better healthcare for students.

It took the duo just around 400 hours to complete the project.

“We wanted to do what we could for our hometowns,” said Jerry Flynt, president of Cornerstone, a Memphis-based consulting firm.

Flynt and many of Cornerstone’s founders are from Mississippi. The primary function of the Internet-based application developed by Cornerstone is to increase healthcare quality to the children of Mississippi. At least 12 Mississippi school districts have been given access to the new application. Using it, school nurses can schedule doctor’s appointments, record findings, make notes of relevant health information, record the types of services provided during clinic visits, make referrals to physicians or make notes for other follow-up care.

The School Nurse program, of which the application is a part, is a $1.45 million project of the Bower Foundation. The application itself cost about $70,000 to create.

“We can’t take any credit from the Bower Foundation,” Flynt said. “We happened to be at the right place at the right time and through some mutual contacts in Jackson got together to make this software package. We took their input and created the application.”

The Bower Foundation, founded in 1972 as Kidney Care Inc., is a private 501(c)(3) organization that provides funding for projects that promote fundamental improvements in the health status of Mississippians through the creation, expansion and support of quality healthcare initiatives. Anne Travis, the foundation’s CEO, said the idea behind the application was to make it as easy as possible for nurses to do screening and bill for it.

“We went to Cornerstone Consulting to ask them if they could do an application which would meet our goals,” Travis explained. “We wanted an easy way for nurses to document the provision of services, bill Medicaid for them and track the referrals of children. Healthy children are better learners and if we can play a role in helping foster the development of healthy children, we’re going to have better educated children in the state.”

And having happy, healthy children in classrooms means that ultimately there will be an improved workforce in the state, Travis said.

Flynt said the development of the Internet-based application for the Bower Foundation is, more than anything, to free the nurses so they can concentrate more on their patients, rather than having to study paperwork all day long. If need be, nurses can take their work home with them and perform tasks on their home computers that they would normally perform in school because the application is Internet based.

“I wanted to produce a piece of software that would help the healthcare industry,” Flynt said. “If we can take a burden off a healthcare provider they can offer more time for the children. That’s really the key.”

Bryan Kerr, senior partner of Prominent Technologies, said it would be easy to roll out the application for other schools in the future.

“From a personal standpoint I think that especially in Mississippi we have a lot of children who for whatever reason don’t have access to healthcare,” he said. “This will be a way to at least provide them with some of the basic screenings so we can provide for those kids.”

Travis said the reaction of school healthcare workers to the new technology has been positive so far. Fifteen schools applied to the Bower Foundation for use of the new software and 12 were selected. Nurses are already providing basic nursing services to students and billing will begin in October for the various screenings already being provided. By the end of December the foundation will know whether or not the program is self-sustaining, as they assume it will be.

Flynt is already one step ahead, however, and has plans to introduce the application to other states in the future.

“We saw the potential of this being a much greater tool than just to be used in the State of Mississippi,” Flynt said. “This could be used for children in every state and school. If Mississippi can be successful and through the claims process be self-sustaining, there’s no reason it can’t be successful in other states as well.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Elizabeth Kirkland at ekirkland@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1042.