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Athenahealth Wages War on Managed Care

Why would you name your health care company after a goddess of war? In the case of Athenahealth (ATHN), which went public last week with one of the best first-day performances in some time, it seems the battle is being waged against the misguided titans of the managed-care industry.

Or as CEO Jonathan S. Bush said in Entrepreneur magazine, "The prudent warfare is using technology to get large, impersonal insurance companies to pay their claims properly."

So far it looks as if Bush, and fellow Booz Allen Hamilton alum Todd Park, have turned Athenahealth into one of the very few who are winning the battle. The company's Web-based approach to claims management helped push the company's offering price from the initial $14 to $16 a share range to the final offering price of $18 a share.

After the first day of trading, the stock closed 97% higher at $35.50. It closed Friday unchanged, however, as if the market were pausing to reconsider that first-day pop.

And while the company has yet to turn a profit and other long-term risks remain, the company's innovative approach makes the stock one of the rare recent IPOs to be in the red and still deserving of a warm welcome in the public markets.

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Bush -- cousin of President George W. Bush, and the brother of Access Hollywood's Billy Bush -- seems inspired by war imagery: An old bio page from his Booz Allen days lists Shakespeare's Henry V as his favorite book.

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