“We do a lot of analytics today, but the data is siloed and our analysts spend a good portion of their time actually pulling that data together so they can do the analytics,” said Partners CIO Jim Noga. “The cool approach with Health Catalyst is they'll cut that time out so they can focus on analysis and not on data gathering.”
The company's experience in developing applications for various disease states will speed up utilization of the data, Noga predicts. “We think we can get the value in a month, rather than measured in years,” he said.
Until recently, only a few healthcare organizations had been on the leading edge of using big data, defined as information from multiple sources with lots of variability, coming in high volumes and at high speed, said Frank Buytendijk, a vice president with Gartner, an information technology research firm, in an audio clip on the firm's website.
Now, as analytics and big data move into the wider province of early adopters, “2013 is the year of big data,” Buytendijk said. The focus, he said, is on how healthcare enterprises must invest in it.
The movement drew early interest from the venture capital community. Health Catalyst's early investors included Norwest Venture Partners, Sorenson Capital and Sequoia Capital, which was the sole source of a $15 million, 2011 “series A” round of funding in the company, then called Health Quality Catalyst.
The movement toward using data collected through EHRs to come up with healthcare solutions is gathering momentum. Last week, Seattle Children's hospital announced it had contracted with IBM for data analytics work, hoping for faster, “more-effective analysis to improve care and diagnosis for patients,” according to a news release about the deal.
“What's happening,” said Todd Cozzens, a venture partner and senior adviser at Menlo Park, Calif.-based Sequoia Capital, “everyone has rushed into meaningful use and to get their EHR systems installed. Kaiser spent several billion in their Epic installation. We've made great progress because we've automated the process. But all we've done right now is just put into computers what we had on paper.”
“Everyone is clamoring for their data,” said Cozzens, a co-founder and former CEO of Picis, a specialty EHR vendor, and a Health Catalyst board member. But providers today need to look at data not just from their own EHRs, but also from payers, their financial systems and other sources and “those EMR companies are not great at integrating things into their systems.”
“I have not talked to a health system that is not looking for solutions in this area,” Cozzens said.