Digital Innovator of the Year Focuses on Humility and a Long-term Vision
Healthegy presented its 2016 Digital Healthcare Innovator of the Year Award to data warehousing up-start Health Catalyst.
On the company’s behalf, Dan Burton, CEO of Health Catalyst, accepted the award at Healthegy’s Digital Healthcare Innovation Summit.
In an interview with venture capitalist Steve Krupa, Burton said Health Catalyst’s path has been tricky.
“Commercialization is tricky,” he said. “There are a lot more ways to do it the wrong way.”
Clearly, the company has been doing it right. Since its launch in 2008, it has racked up many awards, including Forbes 2016 World’s Best 100 Cloud Companies and Fortune’s 100 Best Workplaces.
Burton said the company’s founders learned from forward-thinking health care providers like Intermountain Healthcare, where the founders were formerly and the technology originated.
Health Catalyst “benefited greatly from some very innovative and brave partner customers,” Burton noted, such as Stanford Health Care. By taking a risk on the small start-up, Stanford and a handful of other organizations helped develop the pattern recognition that allowed HC to build a more robust platform.
Humility is one of Health Catalyst’s more important attributes, Burton commented. If Health Catalyst is successful in its mission, he said, “we’re this tiny little part of health care systems,” and those “on the frontlines are the ones making transformation happen.”
Health Catalyst helps its customers with clinical or financial outcomes and both take the same first step – a massive data integration exercise. A lot of effort is required, he noted, and there is a lot of “plumbing.” “We try to identify all the major sources of data we would want flowing into a single data platform.” A fast and flexible architecture gets the data flowing and can serve as a platform for “all kinds of improvement activities over many years.”
Step two takes all that data to prioritize outcome improvements and look for the variation and inefficiency that can cause high costs and patient safety issues. With the top priorities in mind, an organization can implement a series of protocols and use the new data infrastructure to see whether it’s adhering to those protocols and measure the impact in both lives saved and costs. The goal, said Burton, is to gain enough financial benefit so that all the work is paid for through financial efforts, allowing for more clinical improvements, which is “where our heart lies.”
A long-term view is needed for success – both for clients and for Health Catalyst itself, Burton pointed out. “When I look at companies I admire, they’re companies that have made a long-term commitment. We’ve tried to be good learners and emulate some of those elements.”
With a goal of seeing customers’ long-term outcomes “massively improve,” he said the company is not open to being acquired. “We told investors that we need to be Health Catalyst 10, 20 years from now, and if that doesn’t work for you invest with someone else.”
Held on Nov. 2 in Boston, the Digital Healthcare Innovation Summit, chaired by Robert Mittendorff, MD, MBA, of Norwest Venture Partners, and Bill Geary of Flare Capital, brought together leading innovators, investors, and industry executives to share their valuable insights on the future of healthcare.
Contributed by Beth Walsh