Medical company to open software development office in New Orleans CBD

Family firm began with father-doctor

ChenMed, a privately owned medical practice based in Miami, will open a software development office in New Orleans’ Central Business District by the end of the year, Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Wednesday.

ChenMed subsidiary ChenTech will develop software applications for hospitals, physicians and clinics to use in the integration and coordination of patient care.

ChenTech is expected to employ about 50 people, most of them computer programmers.

In addition to those direct jobs, Louisiana Economic Development estimates ChenTech will create 51 indirect jobs, Jindal said.

“These are exactly the kinds of jobs we want to bring to New Orleans, we want to bring to Louisiana,” Jindal said. “These are the kinds of good-paying jobs that will keep our sons and daughters right here at home as they pursue their dreams.”

The software developers will earn an average annual salary of $83,000 plus benefits, officials said.

ChenMed was founded after James Chen, a Miami doctor, was diagnosed with cancer a decade ago. The Chen family was dissatisfied with the level of care and attention he received from his seven doctors and decided to create a system of health care clinics with lower than average patient-to-doctor ratios and better coordinated care among physicians.

ChenMed has four medical clinics in the New Orleans area that employ 80 people.

The company caters primarily to senior citizens with chronic conditions and low to moderate income, Chief Executive Officer Chris Chen said.

Chris Chen, a primary care physician who specializes in cardiology, is James Chen’s son.

The company also has clinics in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky and Virginia.

The software needed to run the ChenMed clinics — applications and information that can be shared among doctors — doesn’t exist in the current marketplace, Chris Chen said.

The company hopes to create it in New Orleans. The goal is to commercialize the products and provide them to medical centers nationwide.

“We decided to create end-to-end the technology to support the entire model,” Chris Chen said. “We have to design customized technology to meet (physicians and other care providers) at their place of need.”

Wednesday’s announcement was the culmination of a swift, five-month courtship between Louisiana and the medical company.

After learning ChenMed was searching for a home for its software development arm, Bryan Sivak, chief technology officer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told Chris Chen about the state’s generous business incentive programs and introduced him to Louisiana Economic Development.

“This is exactly the kind of innovative thinking we want to encourage,” Sivak said.

“You have a clinician who is making something other clinicians can use and a state that knows what kind of jobs it wants and provides crazy incentives for them.”

As a software developer, ChenTech/ChenMed qualifies for the Digital Media and Software Incentive program, which provides a refundable tax credit of 25 percent of qualified digital interactive media or software development expenditures made in Louisiana and a refundable 35 percent tax credit for payroll on Louisiana-based labor.

The state’s FastStart program also will help ChenTech find skilled employees, Jindal said.

ChenTech will operate from a suite on the 22nd floor of the Place St. Charles building at 201 St. Charles Ave.

The New Orleans office should be fully staffed by the end of the year, a ChenMed spokesman said.