Harris Troutman | Executive Profile | ATLANTA TREND
Harris Troutman – Chief Legal Officer Healthgrades
By Karen Rosen
Harris Troutman was a second-year associate happily involved in litigation when a friend made a compelling argument that convinced him to leave his firm.
“He told me to go with an early-stage technology company, and I did,” Troutman says. “I enjoy being in innovative spaces.”
Though he initially worked in the traditional manufacturing fields of metal and rubber, the companies Troutman joined were designed around Internet-based platforms. He moved into the world of social networks as general counsel and secretary with Vitrue, then became Chief Legal Officer for Healthgrades in 2013.
“I went from one hot industry to the next,” Troutman says with a smile. “I like being involved in growth companies and it’s in a vibrant market.”
Healthgrades is the leading online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals.
“There’s a lot of opportunity for innovation in healthcare,” Troutman says, “and Healthgrades is one of the companies leading that innovation through our work with hospitals, physicians and consumers.”
More than 250 million visitors a year already use the Healthgrades websites to search, compare and connect with the physicians and hospitals that can best meet their treatment needs.
Consumers can search doctors by name, location, practice and insurance. The physicians are rated through patient experience surveys.
In the coming months, Healthgrades will launch new offerings that will provide insights about diseases, conditions and procedures. For example, someone needing a hip replacement can find an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in that type of surgery (instead of operating mostly on hands or ankles). As it has always done, Healthgrades will include information about the quality of the hospitals affiliated with the physicians.
“We sit right at the crossroads where consumers are going to make a decision about their healthcare provider,” Troutman says. “People talk about needing more transparency in healthcare, and we provide that.”
Advances like these will further distinguish the Healthgrades site from other doctor directories, said Troutman.
“We’ll provide the consumer with more tools to make better decisions than they’ve ever had before,” Troutman says. “That should not only impact the consumer market, but healthcare overall. People are able to make better choices.”
Healthgrades, which is headquartered in Denver and has a division in Atlanta, also provides tools and data to doctors and hospitals.
Troutman currently works with two paralegals, and another attorney will come on board in Denver this month to handle the increasing workload.
Troutman had his eye on a legal career while growing up in Birmingham, where he was a highly competitive swimmer. Troutman was a member of the Auburn University swimming team while earning a BS in economics and made the Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll. He also got his first taste of leadership as an athlete representative to U.S. Swimming and as the athletes’ vice president on the U.S. Swimming Board of Directors.
Pursuing his master’s degree at Auburn, Troutman performed double duty as both a graduate assistant for the swimming team and in the economics department.
He took a graduate internship with the U.S. Senate Banking Committee on the Republican side and enjoyed Capitol Hill so much that he says, “I decided to not go straight to law school. I knocked on doors and got a job on the House side.”
Although he enjoyed his work as a staff member with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs in 1993, after a short time, Troutman was presented with an “opportunity too good to pass up.”
Atlanta was gearing up for the 1996 Olympics and the swimming events were to be held at Georgia Tech. While attending a dinner with other members of the U.S. Swimming Board of Directors in Atlanta, Troutman met Tech president Pat Crecine. He encouraged Troutman to apply for a job as special assistant to the president.
However, before taking the job, Crecine instructed Troutman to meet the other special assistant to make sure they got along. Troutman and H. West Richards, who also was working on Capitol Hill, became fast friends.
Troutman wrote speeches for Crecine, who led a restructuring at the university that formed three new colleges. He also did policy analysis work, took on special projects and was liaison to various organizations on campus.
Between his stint at Georgia Tech and his enrollment in law school at Georgia State, Troutman worked with the Atlanta Project, the Carter Center initiative to help the inner city, and with the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games.
Even while he was a law student, Troutman multi-tasked. His swimming connections helped him land a part-time job with a local law firm, which gave him exposure to litigation.
He took his first job with a regional employment law firm in Columbia, S.C., then moved back to Atlanta to be closer to his family. Troutman joined Drew, Eckl & Farnham, among the Southeast’s most prominent civil litigation law firms, and helped represent one of the world’s largest tire and rubber companies in product liability matters.
That’s when Richards, his old friend from Georgia Tech, urged him to jump from litigation into technology. Richards, currently Executive Director of the American Transaction Processors Coalition, helped Troutman network in his new field.
Troutman became corporate counsel for MetalSpectrum, a business-to-business e-marketplace company formed by leading aluminum, stainless steel and other specialty metal producers and distributors.
He then was named general counsel and secretary at RubberNetwork, a global technology and professional services company formed by 10 of the world’s largest tire and rubber companies.
He was a good fit for the job. Thanks to his work in litigation, Troutman says, “I actually knew how a tire was made and I was familiar with the industry.” He also had become well-versed in technology law during his year at MetalSpectrum.
With offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia, RubberNetwork provided Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions and professional services to help the tire and rubber companies manage their direct material supply chain processes and their sourcing of nonstrategic indirect goods and services.
. After more than five years, he joined Hill, Kertscher & Wharton as Of Counsel and continued to serve RubberNetwork as its outside general counsel. There, Troutman expanded his practice to other technology and professional services companies.
Later, joining FisherBroyles as a partner, he still spent two or three days a week at RubberNetwork.
Looking for another in-house opportunity, Troutman found Vitrue, a SaaS-based platform for brands to manage their presence on Facebook and Twitter.
He was hired in large part because of his experience with SaaS and his international experience. “At RubberNetwork,” Troutman says, “they were global and an early SaaS provider.”
The Vitrue CEO introduced Troutman to an executive vice president at Healthgrades, and he soon made the job of in-house Chief Legal Counsel his new home. Troutman’s role draws from the skills he has picked up at his career stops along the way.
“I’ve had the privilege of being in these innovative spaces,” he says. “RubberNetwork was innovative in that they were at an early stage in actually using technology to drive efficiencies in their industry.”
Vitrue, which was acquired by Oracle, made a difference by allowing “that conversation with consumers and brands over Facebook that didn’t exist before,” Troutman says.
And now Healthgrades is covering new ground in the types of information it offers consumers.
“The healthcare system is only becoming more complex. At Healthgrades, we believe that finding the right doctor, the right hospital and the right treatments can mean the difference in your health, ” Troutman says.
In addition to the rollout of new search functionality, Healthgrades will also provide more tools to help people prepare for their appointments and ask the right questions of their doctors.
“You like to think that what you do or the company you work with can make a difference,” Troutman says. “And this is a company that is helping people make better healthcare decisions.”
Troutman lives in Roswell with his wife Pam and two sons and is president of the Roswell Youth Football and Cheer Association.
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