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Shasta NetWorks finds niche

The Ashland company creates database management solutions for medical offices

ASHLAND ' Audiologist Glenn Street used to spend more time tinkering with his computers than solving his patients' hearing needs.

Eventually, the owner of Imaginears Inc. had enough and began looking for a more stable operating system.

He turned to Shasta NetWorks LLC, a start-up that coincidentally had people like Street in mind when it was launched in June 2000. Shasta NetWorks co-founder, Jacek Zagorski, replaced a NetWare-based server with one using Linux, which makes an open source or publicly licensed version of Unix. The file and printer problems were fixed.

I had multiple offices and 17 different Windows machines, Street says. I was spending a fair amount of time having to maintain them. The fix was in the file server. I don't understand it, but I know when I use it now that it's stable. It's been a year and a half since had to reboot it.

But Zagorski's Shasta NetWorks does more than build networks ' he offers a Web-based database management solution that has found happy local and national clients.

— Zagorski began working through the possibilities of his own business while working at Rogue Valley Medical Center in the late 1990s. He partnered with Rick Nilsson, an Applegate Valley Web developer and graphic artist, to start a software and support enterprise that would allow clients to run their information services for a fraction of what they were paying for their existing hardware.

Shasta NetWorks' clinic software handles scheduling, charting, accounting and billing for medical practices. But users don't have to purchase the software outright. Instead, the company charges a &

36;1,000 startup fee and a monthly subscription fee of &

36;75 per user, whose access to the software and data is via the Internet using a Web browser.

You don't need to invest in server hardware that will be out of date within a few years, Zagorski says. It's a great solution for community clinics that are being squeezed by Medicare and insurance companies.

Typically when patients walk into the hospital, they have to provide their name, address, birth date and insurance data. That information is keyed into a system. But often the same information is needed when the patient has lab work done.

Instead of rekeying the information in the lab, that data is moved into the system when a patient registers, Zagorski says, noting that not only are steps reduced but so are mistakes caused by multiple entries.

He says a small or medium-size hospital might pay around &

36;250,000 for an interface engine that would accomplish what Shasta NetWorks does. Even a small practice could spend &

36;6,000 for software and as much as &

36;50,000 for hardware that would soon be outmoded.

The way I make money is from my professional services for implementation, design and support, he says. Rather than buying a high-power server and license, they rent the software. ...

Shasta NetWorks' local clients include: Asante Health System, Ashland Community Hospital, Ashland Center for Women's Health, Ashland Pediatrics and Bear Creek Corp. Among its national customers are Siemens Medical Solutions of Malvern, Pa.; Sigma Marketing Group of Rochester, N.Y.; and Hiawatha Community Hospital in Kansas.

A lot of these guys are excellent with machines, but they don't have the best communication skills, Street says. Jacek is a great listener and great at grasping what you're trying to accomplish and translating that into software that works for you.

Software code and other digital-age complexities weren't always part of Zagorski's world.

He was raised 60 miles northwest of Warsaw, Poland, about two hours from the Baltic Sea. His maternal grandfather was born in Chicago, but moved to Poland in 1913 and eventually wound up in Dachau, the Nazi death camp just outside Munich. His grandfather survived and eventually returned to United States in 1966.

His family immigrated in 1977, but they first had to move to Gdansk, Poland, where the Solidarity movement that led to the county's breaking away from the Soviet Union was birthed. They sailed to Montreal, entering the United States from Canada and then settled in the Philadelphia area.

Zagorski lived there for 10 years before leaving for college in 1987. He earned degrees in electrical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and Purdue University, then went to work for Faxsav, a telecom company that allowed computer users to fax Microsoft Word documents from their computer desktops. The Edison, N.J., company has since been sold a couple of times and is known as Easylink.

He crossed the continent to join Rogue Valley Medical Center in January of 1998. He was an interface programmer, handling transactions in the hospital information system between the labs, pharmacy and transcription systems.

After three years, he was ready to begin his own business.

We started right when the dot-com bubble burst, Zagorski concedes. It probably wasn't the best time to come into existence.

Even though the business is located in Ashland, Zagorski favored the grandeur of Mount Shasta, which he can view from his home near the Oregon-California border.

At first I thought about Crater Lake or Mazama for name recognition, Zagorski says. But that mountain blew up and I didn't want to be associated with that. So I named it after my favorite mountain.

The company's logo is an outline of the mountain that Zagorski traced from a picture of the view from his home.

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Jacek Zagorski, co-founder of Shasta NetWorks in Ashland, created a Web-based database management software popular with medical offices. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven