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The 2017 Healthcare Informatics Innovator Awards: Innovation in Cost Savings Winner: analyticsMD

February 10, 2017
by Kayt Sukel
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Leading health IT vendor executives are interviewed to discuss their award-winning innovations

For more than a decade, Healthcare Informatics has honored those at the forefront of healthcare IT innovation with its Innovator Awards Program. As read in our January issue this year, the Healthcare Informatics Innovator Awards Program again recognized leadership teams from patient care organizations that have effectively deployed information technology in order to improve clinical, administrative, financial, or organizational performance. The Program also distinguishes vendor solution providers that have helped their clients shine in enhancing clinician workflow, exchanging data, or cutting down costs.

Indeed, this year the Innovator Awards program included two tracks for innovation recognition—one for healthcare provider organizations and one for technology solution providers, allowing both sides of the health IT spectrum to submit their examples of transformation. All vendor submissions were given to a selection of Healthcare Informatics expert editorial board members for careful review. The list of all provider and vendor winners in this year’s program could be seen right here.

Over the next several days, Healthcare Informatics will give readers the stories of the four vendor winners in the three above-mentioned categories. These technology solution providers are truly blazing the trail for innovation in the health IT vendor market, and we are proud to honor those whose combination of expertise and innovation are shaping the future of healthcare systems.

First up, the 2017 winner in the category of Cost Savings is analyticsMD, a Los Altos, Calif.-based firm that offers a virtual “air traffic control” system for hospital operations. Co-founder and CEO of analyticsMD, Mudit Garg, spoke with Healthcare Informatics about why it’s the little decisions that can make the most impact when it comes to cost savings—and the importance of using both predictive and descriptive data in analytics.

Tell me about analyticsMD’s vision for cost savings in healthcare.

We in the healthcare world struggle with a tough dichotomy. We have a healthcare system that, medically speaking, is one of the most advanced in the world. We have incredibly smart people working on those front lines. Yet, when we look to consumers, there’s a feeling that they are not getting value for what they pay for when it comes to healthcare. That’s a problem.

We are strong believers in the impact of lean and continuous improvement in healthcare.  And we understand that a lot of these improvement opportunities don’t come from one silver bullet-type solution, but a lot of seemingly small decisions that happen day-to-day.  The kind of decisions that, over time, add up and are costly both in terms of dollars and cents but also in terms of quality care.  Our vision is an “air traffic control” system that runs in the background and is constantly watching all manners of different processes and learning from them.  It can then find issues and offer real-time counter measures to fix them in the moment—proactively preventing costly mistakes. 

Up until now, analytics have been about using descriptive or predictive data. What our system has done goes beyond that. It combines machine learning with decision analytics and behavior science. It has the ability to absorb real-time data, learn from the data in the moment, and continuously evaluate different counter measures and decisions throughout the day. It then directly communicates to the person who should be considering those decisions—by sending an email, text, secure message, or making a phone call.

Let me give you an example. In an emergency room, capacity can be an issue.  When it’s too full, it affects both the patients’ experience and the quality of care.  And it can be costly because patients may become impatient and just get up and leave—then go home and find that their condition deteriorates. This is a situation that can get out of hand quickly. Our system is constantly reviewing it.  It keeps track that it is a Friday on a long weekend, it’s very cold outside, we have eight patients who just came in, and we expect four or five more. It shows that Dr. Smith just came online and, in an hour, we will be delayed in collecting lab samples. The system can then send a message directly to the lab manager, or the staff nurse, to bring on extra help so that they can prevent issues with over-capacity.  But this isn’t just limited to this scenario.  It has also been helping improve length-of-stay issues, improve wait times in the emergency department, and reduce patients’ falls, or identify OR white space opportunities, all using the same methodology.

Mudit Garg

How do you see the competitive marketplace moving in the cost savings space?

There are lots of folks who talk about using data in healthcare. The challenge, however, is that those on the front lines are already drowning in data. They have a lot of data. They just aren’t always sure what data they should be following—or even what they should do with the data to drive improvement.

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