Thomas Loegering – Ontellus
Ontellus doesn’t keep medical and other sensitive records, it just retrieves them for a host of involved parties that include hospitals, medical clinics, law firms, insurers, claims adjusters and patients themselves. Each record being of much importance for its own reason, the sooner Ontellus can find and forward it—securely, of course—the better it serves its clientele.
But no matter how quickly Ontellus can satisfy its requests, it’ll always be under pressure to do so quicker and in a manner that can be adjusted as more information is retrieved. Virtual transmission, however, ups the stakes for privacy and cybersecurity, and that’s been among the concerns keeping Thomas Loegering busy since becoming senior vice president and general counsel in the summer of 2022.
“That first year has gone by fast and I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about our industry,” he tells Vanguard in June. “Our growth has been exciting but at times can seem like a bit of a rollercoaster at the pace we move.”
While Ontellus procures all kinds of hard and virtual documents for a diverse clientele, Loegering explains its primary product remains the medical record, which might be the most sensitive of all. For much of the firm’s history, it would manually retrieve these records from other sources and forward them by mail or fax to the appropriate recipient.
Now, as a once paper-intense process goes modern and states increasingly use electronic filings to expedite legal proceedings, clientele want and expect almost instantaneous service with, of course, compliance with HIPAA—the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996—and the privacy laws of 50 states.
Much had been happening on those fronts even before Loegering’s arrival, including Ontellus’ 2019 investment in ChartSwap’s cloud-based B2B platform for simplifying and securely facilitating the exchange or transmission of healthcare and billing records. That, Loegering explains, expanded the firm’s standing in the health-tech sector and gave it the largest share of an expanding market, but there’s still more to do.
Almost since his arrival, Loegering has been on a first-name basis with the infotech department, swapping ideas for streamlining electronic filings and documentation through examining current protocols. He’s also reached out to medical clientele and enlisted artificial intelligence specialists to further digitize and automate processes while meeting regulatory requirements and safeguarding intellectual properties and protected health information. Preliminary results from beta tests have been encouraging, he says, and are being scaled for business as usual.
Every initiative has the common goal of efficiency and Ontellus seeks to continue to enhance its service offerings with services such as records chronology, indexing and medical canvassing, to name a few. It’s all part of the strategy, he says, of not just providing documents but assisting clients in distilling the very detailed information.
“We’ve got to stay in the know and aware of what’s coming,” he says. “It’s a continually changing environment.”
His own in-house experience as general counsel with Charles Taylor aids the cause, Loegering noting the similarities between that international insurance behemoth and his present employer.
As the sole in-house lawyer, he’s got his hands full, but can count on Dawn Foens, his legal and compliance manager, to lighten his load. Foens having extensive experience with similar data-intense firms, Loegering hired her in November and credits her for being a fast learner and contributing almost immediately on the operational side.
“It’s been exciting to help Ontellus become the end-to-end solution for records retrieval,” Loegering says. “We have a great group with lots of industry experience and have built a great culture here that starts at the top and goes all the way down.”
He’s been racking up many frequent flyer miles in partaking to that culture, Loegering’s home being in Bozeman, Montana, and Ontellus headquarters in Houston.
He makes the trip most weeks, preferring face-to-face interaction and there being so much to do while ascertaining Ontellus as the go-to for records retrieval. Much as he misses his wife and 7-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, they’re used to his commuter ways. The job also makes it worthwhile, he’s quick to add.
He has spent much of his legal career on the corporate side since graduating from the University of Denver-Sturm College of Law in 2010. That wasn’t an ideal time for any young lawyer to start a career, the Great Recession causing firms to purge the associate roles, so Loegering logged his first three years as a senior tax associate at Omni Financial in Broomfield, Colorado.
His next role also wasn’t purely legal per se—in addition to supporting the general counsel, Loegering was director of corporate development at TMI Hospitality in Fargo, North Dakota, from 2013 to 2016. Looking back, he credits those early jobs for rounding out his skills and giving him a greater business sense that’s proved beneficial to his ensuing in-house legal roles at Wanzek Construction Inc., PCL Construction, Charles Taylor and, finally, Ontellus.
Then there’s his competitiveness and team-first attitude that grew from his years playing football at Dickinson High School and as a University of North Dakota undergrad.
“I definitely wasn’t an All-American, but football taught me many things more valuable than any of my undergraduate courses,” he says. “The work ethic, dedication, time-management and teamwork—it has all helped me tremendously in my career.”
He tried to spread those virtues for five seasons as an assistant football coach at Sheyenne High School in West Fargo, North Dakota, and wouldn’t rule out returning to the field should time permit. Although, that probably won’t happen anytime soon, not with Loegering flying from Bozeman to Houston on Mondays and the other way on Thursdays.
Come weekends, he splits time between pursuing whatever outdoor activity is in season, often with his family in tow, searching for a new trail, lake or river to explore and coaching his kids’ youth sports teams, which cycle year-round
“Living in Montana, we’re pretty spoiled,” he says. “But Houston’s not such a bad place and its certainly grown on me.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Fall I 2023 Edition here.
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