Middleware brings simplicity to complex system, DIs CEO says

July 1, 2011
“Listening is what will drive better solutions — whether it is improving a sick-leave policy for employees or adding support personnel to serve the needs of our customers and partners.”

Mike Epplen


Data Innovations (DI),

South Burlington, VT

Vice president-product management and vice president-sales for a healthcare-integration product portfolio, Healthvision, Dallas, TX, 1997-2010; change management consultant, Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), 1993-1997.


BA in Psychology, Thomas More College,
Crestview Hills, KY;
MBA University of Cincinnati, OH.


Happily married to a clinical pharmacist who teaches
at the University of Cincinnati.
Four children — two boys and two girls — ages 6 to 12.
Hobbies include reading and coaching youth baseball.

A challenging and fun career.
As a child in Fort Mitchell, KY, I thought I was going to grow up to be a professional baseball player — until I realized I was not fast, could not throw, and had a hard time hitting a baseball. So, after refocusing, I gained an appreciation for the healthcare industry and its complexity. Later, I was lucky enough to become involved in an opportunity in healthcare software.

Listening leads to solutions.
“Simple ideas, better solutions” is Data Innovations' motto. We focus on putting our customers, partners, and employees first. This is very easy to say but hard to do every day, so we focus on the day-to-day execution of our simple ideas — from actionable customer and employee surveys, to continued investment in customer support, to research and development, while ensuring all levels of the organization are available to listen to concerns as well as compliments. Listening is what will drive better solutions — whether it is improving a sick-leave policy for employees or adding support personnel to serve the needs of our customers and partners.

Global reach.
We have exciting projects from Australia to Chile to France to Mexico and around the United States driven by quality products. We have a worldwide partner and customer network that expects our best practices and our technology to seamlessly support their operations and needs on a global basis. We have added staff across the company and have plans to continue to increase the laboratory expertise we can provide to our customers. In 2011 (after the company was acquired by Battery Ventures), we have focused on a message of “One company culture driving global growth.” The investment by Battery has allowed us to consolidate our management practices in North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific countries, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa while operating locally to ensure everyone is pulling in the same direction.

Middleware gaining value.
DI built itself as a leading middleware provider with an unwavering focus. The need for middleware, in our humble opinion, only grows along with the ever-increasing complexity in the healthcare ecosystem. Whether that complexity is centered in financial models, clinical breakthroughs, or staff shortages, we help our partners and customers through our continued focus. To help the industry as it faces a growing shortage of lab personnel, DI educates our partners and customers to make them aware of the technologies that can facilitate increased automation — wherever each lab believes it may be beneficial and applicable. We also focus on the importance of retaining and growing our employees to ensure they see careers in the lab space to be meaningful and beneficial. Everything starts locally, and we work hard to help with the things we are able to do in our small part of the industry.

Lend a hand.
We look for ways to be a leader in the global community when we can. Recently, DI joined with one of our worldwide partners to get software and equipment to Christchurch, New Zealand, to help get one of our customers back up and running after the earthquake. Closer to home, we participate in the Penguin Plunge in Vermont to benefit Special Olympics.

Future laboratorians.
As a comparable example, it was not many years ago that there was a shortage of pharmacists in the U.S. — today that shortage has been resolved. Young people are smart enough to go where opportunities exist. To get young people to consider the medical laboratory as a career, we need to show them that the opportunity exists.