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Health Catalyst’s HAS Goes Virtual

by John Moore III | September 18, 2020

Authors: John Moore, Brian Murphy, Alex Lennox-Miller

Health Catalyst User Group and HAS2020

Health Catalyst normally conducts two sizable live events at this time of year: Health Catalyst User Group for its customers, followed by the Health Analytics Summit (HAS), an industry event for anyone interested in analytics. This year’s virtual versions were better than most online events, but we are not alone in saying that it is hard to pay attention to conferences virtually. Attendee interactions and impromptu meetings make conferences worthwhile; we have a ways to go before virtual events really are a substitute.

HAS covid framework

Covid-19 Impacts

CEO Dan Burton kicked off both events. He talked a lot about how Catalyst’s customers used the company’s technology to understand and cope with the Covid-19 emergency.  The spike in critical care and telehealth utilization as well as the sudden evaporation of procedures had some immediate effects. They accelerated some business model shifts that advanced the use and deployment of new technologies. They spotlighted the effects of racial and other disparities in the healthcare system. More broadly, the crisis showed the need for a scalable data and analytics capability. It also points to the urgent need for a national-level data strategy.

Not everything was about Covid-19 – a reminder that life goes on. Catalyst managed to touch on nearly every important healthcare topic and how analytics can contribute to performance improvement. Despite the HAS’s historical emphasis on any uses of any kind of analytics this year’s break-outs were mostly given by Catalyst customers or Catalyst itself.

Health Catalyst Acquisitions Update

Dan also provided a rationale for Health Catalyst’s three acquisitions since its IPO: Able Health, Healthfinch, and Vitalware. This was useful as looking at each individually, it is challenging to see the synergies among these disparate acquisitions and how they fit in the overall Health Catalyst product portfolio.

Able Health will bring close-to-turnkey clinical quality reporting that can be rapidly deployed for Health Catalyst customers. This capability will go G.A. in Q4’20. Previously, Health Catalyst had been building out their own suite of quality measures but found their implementation timeframes and ultimately time to value for clients was simply too long.

Healthfinch focused on enhancing EHR-based workflows. It got started with prescription refill management and expanded into visit planning and care gap management. Health Catalyst was in the process of building its own closed loop analytics solution, but ultimately decided speed to market was critical and acquired Healthfinch. Of the three acquisitions, it may be the most valuable as it will help Catalyst embed analytics-based insights into clinical workflows.

Vitalware, its most costly acquisition at $120M, appears to be opportunistic, driven as much by the pandemic as anything else. This mid-market revenue cycle management (RCM) product helps provider CFOs with their most pressing problem – driving revenue. How this particular acquisition will work out over time remains to be seen as the revenue cycle process has a lot of moving parts and this is Health Catalyst’s first foray. Whether Catalyst continues to invest in RCM at the expense of other market needs – you only have so much R&D – is an open question.

More Uses of DOS

Catalyst is also gradually leveraging DOS to support its wider application product set. It will roll out a DOS-based FHIR server this November. More importantly, it will transition its Medicity customers and technology onto a DOS base with an offering called Community Orchestrate. This will support not just analytics but inter-organizational transaction applications and support new application development opportunities.

Catalyst also talked about its recently relaunched Care Management Suite and how it relies on DOS to combine data sources for care management workflows. It has a self-service patient stratification tool, care gaps analytics, and care management workflow. To become a true next generation solution, it will need to leverage DOS’s common data and reporting structures to integrate virtual care tools and data.

Where was the Roadmap?

Health Catalyst gave an excellent update on its current lineup. It did not present its future roadmap and release schedule as concisely as it has in the past. This probably has less to with the virtual format and more to do with the need for all HIT vendors to trim their sails and focus on helping address the pandemic.

As we roll through the fall season of virtual user conferences, next up is Optum. We expect a similar emphasis on innovation to address the COVID-19 challenges but far less about broader industry trends such as value-based care.

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