Eric Schumacher had to become much more aware about how he conducted his day after being diagnosed with epilepsy at age 19.

For the last 20 years, Schumacher has kept detailed paper records about how long he slept the previous night, what and when he ate or took his medication, and when and how he participated in any activity that could trigger a seizure.

So with an estimated 2.7 million Americans affiliated with the chronic neurological condition, the Los Angeles software marketing professional figured there was an untapped market for an electronic alternative to the journals and scraps of paper that patients must fumble through to help doctors monitor their treatment.

Soon after leaving a corporate job to form his own marketing agency two years ago, Schumacher also formed NeoMed Software LLC with a former colleague to create just such a seizure tracking software package. EpiTrax hit the market last week.

To the user, EpiTrax looks and acts like a standard computerized scheduling program, albeit with dedicated icons for medication changes, sleep patterns and stress levels. But behind the interface, a sophisticated database is gathering data to produce charts and graphs that can help a doctor detect patterns for potential seizure triggers.

NeoMed operates as a virtual company with Schumacher's chief technology officer and partner, Wolfgang Huber, based in Munich. The company's viral-oriented marketing strategy includes Internet search advertising and networking with patient advocacy groups, such as the Epilepsy Foundation.

Not every epileptic is a likely EpiTrax customer, Schumacher admits, noting that the $39.95 software is most likely to appeal to computer-literate patients who have trouble controlling seizures via medication alone and thus has greater incentive to closely track their activities.

Schumacher estimates a potential market for EpiTrax of at least 450,000 patients in the U.S. and Canada, but foresees several follow-on products that would enable NeoMed to grow into a larger health care software company.

"There are several episodic diseases, like migraines, Celiac disease and Crohn's disease, where people have to track what they do in order to find correlations," said Schumacher, who is chief executive of the company. "Once we have EpiTrax established, we will look at what we can do there."

Hospitalist Acquisition

IPC-The Hospitalist Company, which reportedly is considering a move into the public markets, has added to its holdings with last week's acquisition of Magna Care Hospitalists of Macon, Ga.

Hospitalists are physicians who practice exclusively in hospitals, typically large facilities, and don't maintain their own outpatient practice. IPC is considered one of the largest such groups, managing practices at 200 facilities in 15 states, including California, Florida and Texas.

Magna Care, which includes seven doctors and one nurse practitioner, is the company's first acquisition in Georgia. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Venture investors such as Sightline Partners, Morgenthaler Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners have invested more than $47 million into North Hollywood-based IPC since 1998, according to VentureOne, a Dow Jones Co. market tracker.

At the annual Cowen and Co. Healthcare Conference in Boston last month, President R. Jeffrey Taylor told the investment community that his company had not yet made a decision whether to offer an initial public offering, which would provide an exit opportunity for the VCs, but was considering it.

Annual revenue in 2006 grew 36 percent to $150 million, Taylor said, and the company expects to maintain a growth rate of at least 20 percent. In addition, earnings before interest, taxes, amortization and depreciation (EBITDA) rose 51 percent to $6.5 million last year.

Iris Growth Plans

Iris International Inc. last week laid out a five-year plan to at least triple its revenue in five years by launching urine bacteria detection, cell morphology and ultra-sensitive diagnostic products.

The Chatsworth-based medical device company, known for its automated urinalysis technology, plans to release a new urine chemistry analyzer in the third quarter and a portable urine chemistry analyzer during the first half of 2008. A particular emphasis will be on novel diagnostic products for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases, according to Chief Executive Cesar Garcia.

Iris last month reported fourth-quarter net income of $1.9 million (10 cents per diluted share), with revenue up 16 percent to $19.9 million compared to the same period a year ago.

Staff reporter Deborah Crowe can be reached at (323) 549-5255, ext. 232, or at dcrowe@labusinessjournal.com

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