It all began with identifying a need, having the solution, and taking a leap of faith. In 1983, Koha Health (formerly Physicians Resources LTD) founder Terry Cates was a practice manager for an orthopedic surgeon in Lowell, Massachusetts. She heard anecdotally that many medical practices were struggling with billing and collections. Terry had always wanted to start a business from the ground up. She said to herself, “well, I’m a pretty good biller, I can help bring in that money.” So, she took that leap and found her first client. One client grew to two and then four and the rest is history.
Below are excerpts from a recent interview with Terry to celebrate her accomplishments as part of Women’s History Month:
The First Sale: Terry initially joined her husband on one of his sales calls. He was giving a demonstration on a patient record solution to an orthopedic surgeon. Upon meeting Terry, the surgeon let her know there were five of them in the group, their billing was terrible, and collections were poor. Right then, and there, Terry said, “let me do your billing.” And that’s how it all started.
On Starting a Business: Starting a business in the 1980s was hard. There was no separation between work and personal life. Terry was no exception. “I literally worked from morning till night. Never stopped. I’d wake up at one o’clock in the morning and work. The advice I would give people starting a business today would be: Don’t give up on yourself; believe you can do it. Know that you’re going to make lots of mistakes but always try to learn from them.”
Another piece of advice she would give those starting out today is to prioritize family and personal relationships. She values separating business life and spending more time with family. Family relationships are priceless.
On Hiring Good People: The third person that Terry hired was Brian Hall, current son-in-law and CEO of Koha Health. “Honestly, I may have started Physicians Resources (now Koha Health), but Brian Hall made it what it is, I’m so proud of him. Let me tell you, if my husband and I, were able to assemble a son-in-law and put it together, we would have messed up because Brian’s the best.”
On Retirement: Terry has now retired in Florida. She keeps active with golf, reading, and walking 6 to 7 miles a day! Her goal is to enjoy life to its fullest. But, she still has a passion for Koha Health and remains current on the business.