HealthLynked Chairman and CEO Dr. Michael Dent peers down at the to-do list on his desk on a recent morning and exclaims — for better or worse — that “there’s more than 20 things here.”
That’s on top of a frenzied six months that included several significant milestones for Naples-based HealthLynked, a health care technology firm that uses a cloud-based software platform to link patients with providers. One standout example? A COVID-19 tracking app that was a major hit on Apple’s app store. HealthLynked also recently closed an acquisition that will provide a new revenue stream through Medicare, and it introduced HealthLynked University, a Ted Talk-like portfolio of health care presentations.
Finally, in late September firm officials announced the company, with 37 employees, had paid back some $1.6 million in debt over the past month. The paring down of debt is timely, partially because HealthLynked has posted operating losses three years in a row, including $3.2 million in 2019 and $3 million in 2018, according to public filings. The losses come as the firm nearly doubled revenue in two years, from $2.1 million in 2017 to $4 million in 2019.
Despite the losses, Dent is so satisfied with the progress — and stoked about HealthLynked’s future — he recently invested an additional $3 million into the company, which he founded in 2014. “We’ve been really busy. We are growing rather rapidly,” Dent says of the company, publicly traded on the over-the-counter market. “There’s a lot happening here.”
‘Our plan was always to be a global health care network. This was a springboard for us to that almost overnight.’ Dr. Michael Dent, HealthLynked
The HealthLynked system is capable of merging patients’ health records from a variety of sources into a comprehensive, portable, accurate health record instantly accessible by participating doctors who sign on to have the HealthLynked hub placed in their offices. Free to patient members, the service not only makes continually updated records accessible by physicians but also tracks every aspect of their patients’ visit. HealthLynked has more than one million patient members.
COVID-19, of course, temporarily corrupted HealthLynked’s mission, at least in the sense that in March the bulk of the health care industry quickly moved into anything connected to the new coronavirus. Dent, seeing what was going on in China and other countries in January, began talking to developers about a COVID-19 tracking app. The firm contracted with a team of developers and by mid-March, right when municipalities and towns began to shut down nationally, the app was released on the Apple app store.
It was a smash hit. It was downloaded 4 million times over the first six weeks and was the No. 1 Apple Medical Store app in April, Dent says. “This was a really big deal for us,” Dent says. “Our plan was always to be a global health care network. This was a springboard for us to that almost overnight.”
Although it was a boost for notoriety and the firm’s technical chops, it wasn’t a revenue source: The app is free to download and use, and HealthLynked makes no money from it. Dent declines to say how much it cost to set up and develop the app. “We wanted something user-friendly that can track the virus and provide information to people,” he says.
One way the app does that, he says, is through self-reporting COVID-19 cases broken down by counties worldwide. “That’s what people really want to know: what’s happening right around them in real time,” Dent says.
The app, which includes a news feed and educational material, also taught Dent a lesson in the bureaucratic workings of big technology: Google initially refused to put the app on its Google Play app store. The reason, Dent was told, is the search engine giant couldn’t verify if HealthLynked was gathering legitimate data. “They pulled it down right away,” he says. “That was quite disappointing.” (The app is available on Google Play now.)
Dent didn’t let that hiccup slow down HealthLynked’s momentum. One big upcoming goal is to upgrade the stock, traded under the symbol HLYK, by getting on the Nasdaq. Calling it the firm’s “next big hurdle,” Dent says going from over-the-counter to Nasdaq will enhance the company’s visibility and bring in a wider pool of investors.
Dent is also familiar with raising capital for a promising medical firm: In 2002 he helped launch Fort Myers-based cancer diagnostic lab firm NeoGenomics, going from a $300,000 investment to a publicly held firm with $408.83 million in revenue in 2019. And when Dent and some other former NeoGenomics executives formed HealthLynked six years ago, they raised $5.3 million through private investment, an IPO and institutional funding. Dent’s confident the potential for HealthLynked is even bigger — for revenue, patients and the health care sector — than NeoGenomics. Says Dent: “I’m a big believer in this company.”