March 13, 2010

Once-promising telemedicine company to close

ANN S

— By . KIM

click image to enlarge

Photo by John Ewing/Staff Photographer... Tuesday, November 18, 2006...IntelliCare, Inc., a telemedicine company in South Portland, will be closing down by the end of February resulting in the loss of about 250 jobs. IntelliCare's parent company, Medco Health Solutions, based in New Jersey, felt that it did not fit into the long-range business plans of Medco.

Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND — A telemedicine company once touted for its fast growth and potential for job creation will close early next year.

IntelliCare Inc. will shut down by the end of February, said Ann Smith, a spokeswoman for Medco Health Solutions, IntelliCare's New Jersey-based parent company.

Most of IntelliCare's 250 employees will lose their jobs, but Medco expects to retain 35 to 50 people, said Rob Marzulli, a Medco spokesman. The employees who stay on will work remotely on other Medco initiatives.

About 100 employees work in South Portland and 150 work remotely from their homes, both in Maine and elsewhere in the country. Of the workers who will be kept on, half will come from South Portland and half from the remote ranks, Marzulli said.

Smith said the decision to close had nothing to do with the current economic climate -- IntelliCare simply does not fit into the company's long-term business plan. She said the closure is not a reflection on the performance of employees.

''We took a hard look at what we already provide. We saw this is not a strategic fit at this time,'' she said.

Medco explored other avenues of divesting itself of IntelliCare, but ''strategic priorities'' and other factors meant that closing the facility was the best course of action, Smith said.

The South Portland office referred inquiries to the New Jersey headquarters.

Founded in 1997, IntelliCare provides telephone-based nursing services to health care providers. It also operates other types of call programs, including those for health plan enrollment and patient-satisfaction surveys.

Employees fill jobs ranging from administrative assistants to registered nurses, who account for about one-third of the work force. Smith said she could not provide salary ranges for IntelliCare employees.

IntelliCare was acquired by Massachusetts-based PolyMedica Corp. in 2005. Medco, a pharmacy benefit manager, bought PolyMedica last year. Diabetes is one of the major chronic conditions overseen by Medco, and PolyMedica is a diabetes equipment supplier, Smith said.

Earlier this month, Medco reported third-quarter net income of $295.7 million, an increase of 37.7 percent over the same quarter last year. IntelliCare's financial performance was not broken out.

Before its acquisition by PolyMedica, IntelliCare was recognized as one of the fastest-growing technology companies in North America in a field -- telemedicine -- with big potential.

The company was on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 list four years in a row. The rankings were based on percentage revenue growth over five years.

IntelliCare also made Deloitte's Fast 50 list of New England companies.

The Small Enterprise Growth Fund, created by the Maine Legislature as a source of venture capital, made several investments in IntelliCare.

When the company was acquired by PolyMedica, IntelliCare's founder, Victor C. Otley III, said he saw the deal as a way to accelerate job creation in the state.

South Portland Assistant City Manager Erik Carson said that any job losses announced at this time of year are troubling, and made worse by the state of the economy. He said call centers can be challenging for economic development.

''Where is the parent? What's the commitment?'' he asked.

IntelliCare jobs will start to be eliminated before February, with the local management team working out individual severance dates, Smith said.

Medco operates other call programs, including those that employ nurses and pharmacists, through other subsidiaries. Smith said IntelliCare employees with appropriate experience and availability are being encouraged to interview for other Medco positions.

The Maine Department of Labor and the company have been in contact, and there are plans to arrange an unemployment counseling session with employees. Severance will be determined according to the position and tenure of an employee.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

akim@pressherald.com

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