James “Jamey” Edwards ’96, MBA ’03

Making a mark in health care


It’s a scene that unfolds every day in a hospital somewhere in the United States: A patient arrives in the emergency room, unable to speak English and pounding on his chest. The medical staff doesn’t know whether to treat him for chest pain or a bad case of indigestion.

A company that devised a solution to this dilemma — by engaging on-demand teams of highly qualified interpreters accessible online and on video — was on the verge of closing its doors in 2008 when Jamey Edwards, already CEO of Emergent Medical Associates (EMA) in Manhattan Beach, Calif., took on the role of CEO at Language Access Network (LAN) and led a group of investors to save the company.

Over the next five years, LAN increased the number of hospitals it serves from ten to more than 300 and grew revenue by over 1,000 percent to $10.2 million. Using a new, tablet-style monitor, LAN now offers video interpretation in 40 languages plus audio interpretation in more than 220 languages.

“Communication is fundamental to the patient-provider encounter,” Edwards says. “Our system empowers the patient to take more control over their care and simultaneously helps the provider make much more well-educated clinical decisions.”

LAN is not the first health-care company Edwards has helped grow. In 2006, he became CEO of EMA, a leading emergency care and hospitalist management provider that serves patients, communities, physicians, and hospitals in California. He was working as an investment banker at Lehman Brothers when his uncle, Irv Edwards, MD, EMA’s founder, asked him to lead the company. “I jumped at it,” Edwards says. “It was a chance to make my mark in a different way in an industry facing significant challenges.”

After Edwards teamed up with clinical leadership to scale up operations, revenue at EMA grew five-fold to $85 million last year, while the number of emergency departments the company services more than tripled to 22. For the past two years, EMA has been named one of Modern Healthcare’s Hottest Companies, based on revenue growth.

Honored as a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013, Edwards has managed a challenging reimbursement environment related to government programs and insurance companies in part by steering its focus toward technology and data. “We invested in collaborative project management, support services, and technologies to make sure everyone is coordinated as the organization gets bigger,” says Edwards. “Our providers have the confidence and knowledge that their practice is being managed effectively,” he says. “As a result, they can focus on doing what they do best: providing the best patient care possible.”