Health Catalyst Completes Acquisition of HIE Technology Company Medicity | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

Health Catalyst Completes Acquisition of HIE Technology Company Medicity

July 16, 2018
by Heather Landi
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Salt Lake City-based Health Catalyst, a data analytics company, has completed its acquisition of Medicity, a developer of health information exchange (HIE) technology, and the deal adds data exchange capabilities to Health Catalyst’s data, analytics and decision support solutions.

The deal was first reported by HIStalk back in May. Aetna acquired Medicity back in 2011 for a reported $500 million. The company, also based in Salt Lake City, offers products and services that enable health systems, hospitals, physician practices and HIEs to securely access and exchange healthcare information. The terms of transaction between Health Catalyst and Medicity have not been released.

According to Health Catalyst executives, Medicity’s customer base includes more than 100 clients, including 21 state and regional HIEs, large employers, health plans, 75 health systems encompassing over 1,000 hospitals and more than 185,000 providers in physician groups and extended care facilities, in support of over 75 million patients. Dan Burton, Health Catalyst CEO, says the acquisition combines Medicity’s deep clinical dataset of over 75 million patients and significant transactional capabilities with Health Catalyst’s Data Operating System, including AI-driven analytics and business intelligence, and a set of financial, cost, patient outcomes, and supply chain data from over 400 hospitals, 4,000 clinics and a data set of over 100 million patients nationwide.

“The future of healthcare will rely on the broad and more effective use of data to improve quality and costs, and with this acquisition, Health Catalyst can combine its expertise in data, analytics and decision support, including a data asset of over 100 million patients, with the expertise of Medicity in data exchange across the continuum of care,” Burton said in a statement.

In an interview with Healthcare Informatics about the deal, Burton said Health Catalyst’s acquisition of an HIE technology company reflects on the state of the HIE market.

“I think there are core components of value that HIEs provide to their customers from an interoperability perspective and from a data exchange perspective that will live on and need to be fulfilled for a very long time. As the government subsidies have ended, you see market forces taking place, and, as a result, there’s a need to reassess the economic model. That’s one of the reasons why I think we got excited about the combination, where we can keep providing the elements that HIEs provide that are sustainable and valuable to clients, and then bolster that with more strength in data capabilities and more strength in analytics and then pinpoint improvement, and that improvement has its own inherent return on investment.”

According to Health Catalyst, the integration of Medicity expands the capabilities of the Health Catalyst Data Operating System, which will now have the ability to receive and analyze data in real time, and then embed the resulting insights into the workflow of most electronic health records (EHRs) on the market today. “The combined companies will also have a compelling solution for the loosely affiliated community ambulatory care management space. These organizations, primarily independent physician groups, are in dire need of a simple means of integrating data between EHRs at the patient encounter level, with enough clinical quality analytics to meet the legal requirements of a Clinically Integrated Network,” company executives said in a press release.

In the interview, Burton said the two companies have complementary strengths, with Medicity providing significant transactional capabilities now combined with Health Catalyst’s expertise in analytics.

“Medicity has a great deal of experience in data with regards to patient interactions in the ambulatory setting, whereas, Health Catalyst really grew up out of the acute care setting environment and has a very real rich data set in the acute care setting. The marriage of Health Catalyst’s 100 million or so patient record data set with Medicity’s 75 million patient record data set, where one has strength in the ambulatory setting and the other has real strength in the acute care setting, is a very complimentary set of capabilities,” Burton says. “Likewise, Health Catalyst’s strength and capability has always been in using data, analyzing that data and pointing out opportunities for improvement and we’re just beginning to get more specific transactional workflow-oriented capabilities and experiences, whereas Medicity has more depth and strength on the transactional side of the equation that really bolsters Health Catalyst’s capability.”

As health systems, hospitals and provider organizations move forward with population health management efforts and look to improve performance in value-based care contracts, the leveraging of data and analytics will be foundational to these efforts. “I think that will be a very significant trend over the next decade or longer—data as an asset to healthcare organizations, to leverage, is becomingly increasingly central and increasingly important,” Burton says.

Moving forward, organizations will need strong analytics capabilities and strong connectivity for providers and patients, and Burton contends that combining Health Catalyst’s and Medicity’s capabilities enables the company to platform to “offer solutions designed to help clients apply data-driven insights in a value-based care environment.”

“This combined entity now has a richer data asset, and we’re adding capabilities to that data platform that we think are going to be necessary to be leveraged by health systems to start using data, especially as the economic model shifts more towards a value-based model. Understanding the data, specifically around the cost of care, becomes very centrally important for survival, and having a rich data asset that can enable them to understand that, analyze it, pinpoint improvement opportunities and then do something about it, we believe is fundamental to survival and success,” Burton says.

Bringing in data from across the care continuum is particularly important for population health efforts, and this is where many organizations struggle, Burton contends. “When we look at a typical organization that wants to start making strides in the area of population health and we look at where they are from a data asset perspective, versus where they need to be, we see an incredible gap in the ability to access the right amount of data, the right types of data from a relevance perspective, and from a timeliness perspective. We recognize the need for partners like Health Catalyst to step it up and do more in helping these health systems and healthcare organizations to have the data that they need to understand what’s working and what’s not working, across a population of members and individuals, across lots of different settings,” he says.

In a statement, Dale Sanders, Health Catalyst’s president of technology, said, “Adding Medicity’s data skills and technology, particularly in physician-led value-based care networks, is a great complement to our solutions.”

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Survey: Digital, AI Top Priorities in 2019, but EHRs Will Dominate IT Spend

January 22, 2019
by Heather Landi, Associate Editor
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Digital, advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) are top spending priorities for healthcare executives in 2019, but electronic health record (EHR) systems will dominate technology spending budgets, according to a recent technology-focused healthcare survey.

Damo Consulting, a Chicago-based healthcare growth and digital transformation advisory firm, surveyed technology and service provider executives and healthcare enterprise executives about how the demand environment for healthcare IT is changing and will impact the industry in the coming year. Damo Consulting’s third annual Healthcare IT Demand Survey also analyzes the challenges for healthcare organizations and the perceived impact of macro-level changes.

The report indicates technology vendors will continue to struggle with long sales cycles as they aggressively market digital and AI. For the second year in a row, the rise of non-traditional players such as Amazon and Google will have a strong impact on the competitive environment among technology vendors while EHR vendors grow in dominance.

Among the key findings from the survey, IT budgets are expected to grow by 20 percent or more, with healthcare executives indicating they are more upbeat about IT spend growth than vendors. All the healthcare executives who participated in the survey said digital transformation initiatives are gaining momentum in their enterprises.

However, the majority (75 percent) agree that rapid change in the healthcare IT landscape makes technology decisions harder and only 58 percent believe there are plenty of viable and ready-to-deploy solutions available today in emerging technologies such as AI and digital health solutions. Seventy-one percent agree that federal government policies have provided a boost to healthcare IT spend this past year.

Top IT priorities for healthcare enterprise executives in 2019 are digital, advanced analytics and AI. Of the survey respondents, 79 percent said accelerating digital health initiatives was a top priority and 58 percent cited investing in advanced analytics and AI capabilities as top priorities. However, modernizing IT infrastructure (25 percent) and optimizing EHRs (21 percent) are also significant priorities.

Technology vendors also see AI, advanced analytics and digital transformation as top areas of focus for next year, as those areas were cited by 75 percent and 70 percent of technology and service provider executives, respectively. Thirty-three percent of those respondents cited EHR optimization and 25 percent cited cybersecurity and ransomware. Thirteen percent cited M&A integration as a top area of focus in 2019.

However, EHR systems will dominate technology spending budgets, even as the focus turns to digital analytics, the survey found. Technology and service provider executives who participated in the survey identified EHR system optimization and cybersecurity as significant drivers of technology spend in 2019. Sixty percent of respondents said enterprise digital transformation and advanced analytics and AI would drive technology spend this year, but 38 percent also cited EHR optimization and cybersecurity/ransomware. One executive survey respondent said, “For best of breed solutions, (the challenge is) attracting enough mindshare and budget vs. EHR spends.”

When asked what digital transformation means, close to half of healthcare executives cited reimaging patient and caregiver experiences, while one quarter cited analytics and AI and 17 percent cited automation. As one executive said, “The biggest challenge for healthcare in 2019 will be navigating tightening margins and limited incentives to invest in care design.”

Healthcare executives are divided on whether digital is primarily an IT-led initiative, and are also divided on whether technology-led innovation is dependent on the startup ecosystem.

The CIO remains the most important buyer for technology vendors, however IT budgets are now sitting with multiple stakeholders, the survey found, as respondents also cited the CFO, the CTO, the CMIO and the chief digital officer.

“Digital and AI are emerging as critical areas for technology spend among healthcare enterprises in 2019. However, healthcare executives are realistic around their technology needs vs. their need to improve care delivery. They find the currently available digital health solutions in the market are not very mature,” Paddy Padmanabhan, CEO of Damo Consulting, said in a statement. “However, they are also more upbeat about the overall IT spend growth than their technology vendors.”

Looking at the technology market, healthcare executives perceive a lack of maturity in technology solution choices for digital initiatives, as well as a lack of internal capabilities for managing digital transformation. In the survey report, one executive said, “HIT architecture needs to substantially change from large monolithic code sets to an API-driven environment with multiple competing apps.”

A majority of healthcare enterprise executives view data silos and lack of interoperability as the biggest challenges to digital transformation. And, 63 percent believe the fee-for-service reimbursement model will remain the dominant payment model for the foreseeable future.

In addition, cybersecurity issues will continue to be a challenge for the healthcare sector in 2019, but not the biggest driver of technology spending or the top area of focus for health systems in the coming year, according to the survey.

Healthcare executives continue to be confused by the buzz around AI and digital and struggle to make sense of the changing landscape of who is playing what role and the blurred lines of capabilities and competition, according to the survey report. When asked who their primary choice is when looking for potential partners to help with digital transformation, 46 percent of healthcare executives cited their own internal IT and innovation teams, 17 percent cited their EHR vendor and 8 percent cited boutique consulting firms. A quarter of respondents cited “other.”

For technology vendors, the biggest challenge is long cycles, along with product/service differentiation and brand visibility.

The rise of non-traditional players, such as Amazon, Apple, and Google, will have a strong impact on the competitive healthcare technology environment, the survey responses indicated. At the same time, deeply entrenched EHR vendors such as Epic and Cerner will grow in dominance.

 

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AMIA Charts Course to Learning Health System

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Initiative seeks to create virtuous cycle where clinical practice is not distinct from research

In September 2015, at AcademyHealth’s Concordium 2015 meeting in Washington, D.C., I saw a great presentation by Peter Embi, M.D., who was then an associate professor and vice chair of biomedical informatics as well as associate dean for research informatics and the chief research information officer at the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University. 

That day Dr. Embi outlined some of the limitations of the traditional approach to evidence-based medicine —  that it is a research/practice paradigm where the information flow is unidirectional, and clinical practice and research are distinct activities, with the research design as an afterthought. “We want to leverage information at the point of care and in engagements with patients so we can systematically learn. That is what the learning health system is all about,” Embi said.

But in the current model, he noted, there is little consideration of research during planning of health systems. That limits the ability to invest in and leverage clinical resources to advance research. Also, there are no financial incentives for non-researchers to engage in research. Research as an afterthought also leads to regulatory problems and wasted investments.

Embi argued for moving from “evidence-based medicine” to an “evidence-generating medicine” approach, which he defined as the systematic incorporation of research and quality improvement into the organization. Rather than findings flowing only from research done looking back at historical data, this approach creates a virtuous cycle where clinical practice is not distinct from research.

Flash forward to 2019 and Dr. Embi is now president & CEO of Regenstrief Institute Inc., vice president for learning health systems at IU Health, and chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA). And he is still advocating for a shift to evidence-generating medicine. He and AMIA colleagues recently published a paper in JAMIA offering more than a dozen recommendations for public policy to facilitate the generation of evidence across physician offices and hospitals now that the adoption of EHRs is widespread.

The paper cites several examples of current high-visibility research initiatives that depend on the EGM approach: the All of Us Research Program and Cancer Moonshot initiative, the Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory, and the development of a national system of real-world evidence generation system as pursued by such groups as the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other federal agencies.

The paper makes several recommendations for policy changes, including that the Trump administration should faithfully implement 2018 Revisions to the Common Rule as well as establish the 21st Century Cures-mandated Research Policy Board. The administration must implement this provision to better calibrate and harmonize our sprawling and incoherent federal research regulations.

Another recommendation is that the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) should refine the definition of a HIPAA Designated Record Set (DRS) and ONC should explore ways to allow patients to have a full digital export of their structured and unstructured data within a Covered Entity’s DRS in order to share their data for research. In addtion, regulators should work with stakeholders to develop granular data specifications, including metadata, and standards to support research for use in the federal health IT certification program.

The AMIA authors also suggest that CMS leverage its Quality Payment Program to reward clinical practice Improvement Activities that involve research components. This would encourage office-based physicians to invest time and resources needed to realize EGM, they say.

Based on the paper’s findings, AMIA is launching a new initiative focused on advancing informatics-enabled improvements for the U.S. healthcare system. The organization says that a multidisciplinary group of AMIA members will develop a national informatics strategy, policy recommendations, and research agenda to improve:

• how evidence is generated through clinical practice;

• how that evidence is delivered back into the care continuum; and

• how our national workforce and organizational structures are best positioned to facilitate informatics-driven transformation in care delivery, clinical research, and population health.

A report detailing this strategy will be unveiled at a December 2019 conference in Washington, D.C.

 

 

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Definitive Healthcare Acquires HIMSS Analytics’ Data Services

January 16, 2019
by Rajiv Leventhal, Managing Editor
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Definitive Healthcare, a data analytics and business intelligence company, has acquired the data services business and assets of HIMSS Analytics, the organizations announced today.

The purchase includes the Logic, Predict, Analyze and custom research products from HIMSS Analytics, which is commonly known as the data and research arm of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

According to Definitive officials, the acquisition builds on the company’s “articulated growth strategy to deliver the most reliable and consistent view of healthcare data and analytics available in the market.”

Definitive Healthcare will immediately begin integrating the datasets and platform functionality into a single source of truth, their executives attest. The new offering will aim to include improved coverage of IT purchasing intelligence with access to years of proposals and executed contracts, enabling transparency and efficiency in the development of commercial strategies.

Broadly, Definitive Healthcare is a provider of data and intelligence on hospitals, physicians, and other healthcare providers. Its product suite its product suite provides comprehensive data on 8,800 hospitals, 150,000 physician groups, 1 million physicians, 10,000 ambulatory surgery centers, 14,000 imaging centers, 86,000 long-term care facilities, and 1,400 ACOs and HIEs, according to officials.

Together, Definitive Healthcare and HIMSS Analytics have more than 20 years of experience in data collection through exclusive methodologies.

“HIMSS Analytics has developed an extraordinarily powerful dataset including technology install data and purchasing contracts among other leading intelligence that, when combined with Definitive Healthcare’s proprietary healthcare provider data, will create a truly best-in-class solution for our client base,” Jason Krantz, founder and CEO of Definitive Healthcare, said in a statement.

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