Healthcare

2022: The Year of the Platform for Healthcare

Abhinav Shashank
Fri 11 February 2022
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KLAS establishes “Data & Analytics Platforms” as a healthcare IT category. It’s a turning point for accelerating healthcare innovation

This week KLAS recognized the emergence of a new category: “Data & Analytics Platforms” for healthcare.

It’s a first for KLAS, a first for healthcare, a first for Innovaccer, and a first for our superhero customers who made Innovaccer’s Data Platform the 2022 Best in KLAS in this new category. Innovaccer also received the highest customer satisfaction for a data platform, with 85% of customers reporting they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied" with our platform.

KLAS is all about engaging in direct conversations with customers who are the users of HIT, to understand a given technology's effectiveness in supporting their goals. We are absolutely honored to have the voice of our customers reflected in this new designation. They are the true pioneers who have helped establish the data platform as a bona fide category now recognized by KLAS.

To each and every one of our more than 60 customers—providers, payers, life sciences companies—who are now leveraging the Innovaccer Health Cloud’s Data Activation Platform to accelerate your digital transformation and “shift to offense” in a highly competitive and rapidly evolving market, please accept a warm and heartfelt “Thank You” from all of us at Innovaccer for making 2022 the Year of the Platform for healthcare.

The Platform is the Computer

Remember the days before you could hail a ride from your smartphone?

That was little more than a decade ago, before Uber burst onto the scene. Uber began with a seemingly simple concept: “What if you could request a ride from your phone?” That simple idea belied the monumental complexity of the infrastructure and applications Uber had to build to outrun competitors who were pondering the same idea.

Uber jump-started innovation by turning to Google Cloud for infrastructure, Google Maps for location, Twillio for communication, Stripe for billing, and other pre-built platforms for various application requirements. These platforms let them focus 100% on innovating their use case: tap a button, get a ride, and pay.

There are now more than 75 million Uber riders and 3.9 million drivers in more than 80 countries. , Few if any realize they’re actually using Google Cloud, Google Maps, and the other pre-built platforms to enable their Uber experience. And those same platform technologies continue to help Uber accelerate innovation as they move beyond ride sharing into food and prescription deliveries, trucking and logistics, and other things that move us.

The story of leveraging pre-built platforms can be told for virtually all digital innovators who transformed or spawned entire industries. Spotify, Netflix, Airbnb, Zillow, Veeva, ZenDesk, Glassdoor, Plaid, and countless other globally disruptive companies might not exist today were it not for the pre-built platforms they used to accelerate innovation to get to market and scale quickly.

A Moonshot Six Years in the Making

Remember when healthcare technology and data were fragmented, few if any systems interoperated, patient data was scattered everywhere, consumer experiences were unsatisfying, and manual processes slowed or prevented our ability to actually understand what was going on in our organizations and with our populations’ health?

Oh, wait: That’s today. But that will ultimately become a “remember when?” moment as well, instead of healthcare’s present state. We recently predicted that the cloud revolution was coming to healthcare, and how it will transform the industry. What we didn’t realize is how quickly that corner would be turned.

With KLAS recognizing the emergence, importance, and attributes of the “Data & Analytics Platforms” for healthcare as a category, I think that corner has been turned.

Finally.

Six years ago, as we were building our data platform for healthcare, we were essentially misfits who could have been characters in Apple’s classic “Think Different” advertising campaign. We had a “think different” view about how to solve healthcare’s problems—the whole lot of them—in a way that hadn’t been considered or attempted before.

We might not have been alone in recognizing that healthcare’s woes were fundamentally a data problem, but we were alone in how we designed and architected our business from the ground up around the foundation of data to enable myriad use cases. Moreover, we did so with cloud-native technology, and an understanding that the data model should be fundamentally built around the patient.

We also oriented our business not just to the collection and consolidation of data, but to the activation of data within solutions our customers already had invested in or might want to develop. There’s only a business or clinical impact when the data can be activated and integrated into processes that measurably change outcomes for the better—and in ways that reduce the friction of putting activated data to use with existing applications.

None of this had been done before. The idea of a “data platform for healthcare”—an open, cloud-native platform capable of consolidating healthcare data, making sense of it, and putting it to work—while keeping the notion of embracing and extending our customer’s existing investments in mind, and with the patient at the center—was ahead of its time.

We believed we had found healthcare’s missing link. But as we made the rounds of industry colleagues and shared our vision, and showed them what we were building, one question we encountered was, “can’t the EHR do that?” Of course, EHR’s don’t do that, because they’re centered on billing, not patients; they’re siloed (they don’t interoperate, integrate, or share patient data well if at all), and any analytics they support are limited to the EHR’s data silo.

Operating under that misconception, some folks recommended that we categorize our work as a “population health management” platform, or a “business intelligence” platform, or a “data warehouse” platform—well-established yet narrow point categories vs. the transformational category we envisioned. “These are the categories that you should be fitting into” were the recommendations.

But we knew the amount of healthcare data would continue to explode, and that literally everyone in healthcare would come to recognize they were going to need a data platform. It was just a matter of time.

A Platform for Accelerating Innovation

We believed then, and our advice now, is that a health system is best served by not looking for a “population health management solution” or another narrow point solution to solve another narrow problem. Doing so risks boxing them in and creating another problem down the road.

What happens when a health system needs to drive patient experience transformation, to engage patients across the continuum of care in a clinically integrated way? Do they source another point solution? Or can they use the data platform they already own to seamlessly add CRM/PRM capabilities to their population health management solution?

What happens when a health system realizes they need revenue transformation for financial clearance, revenue capture, claim management, denial prevention and recovery, and the related automation and reporting that’s crucial to optimizing revenue cycle velocity? Do they cobble together a bunch of disparate RCM solutions and create a financial silo within their organization?

Or do they leverage the same data platform that’s powering their population health solution and the patient relationship management solution in a seamlessly and clinically integrated way—leveraging the same longitudinal patient record across all three operational domains? Ditto clinical transformation, operational transformation, and (dare I say it?) cloud transformation.

Once the initial use case is met and the data platform is established within an organization, gone are the days of having to integrate myriad legacy systems across care settings as a first step. Instead, innovation and digital transformation can happen at the pace of change, because the data platform—coupled with modern, modular building blocks that turbo-charge development—provides the fundamental basis for rapidly meeting new use cases as they arise.

What our health system customers—providers, payers, life sciences, biotech, and medtech organizations—are finding is that once the data platform is in place, they are able to unleash new forms of innovation. They’ve smartly established a reusable foundation for unlimited solutions that embrace and extend their population health management solution (or whatever their initial need was) and opened a path to address future use cases that might not be obvious today but will be tomorrow. As one customer recently put it, “We’re well-positioned for perpetually accelerated innovation.”

Data Platform Apples and Oranges

The EHR was, and in many cases remains, the essential first step toward digital health, and a crucial first step for the industry. The EHR era transformed paper to data, manual to automated, analog to digitized information. And that had to happen. It also laid the groundwork for the future our customers are now building. A modern data platform in the cloud, that embraces the EHR, can propel healthcare forward to the next era of digital transformation.

The EHR was the right technology for a different era. And after 40+ years and hundreds of billions invested in it by providers, the EHR has become the first center of gravity in healthcare., What healthcare now gains is a second center of gravity with the cloud data platform that embraces and extends the value of existing EHRs and other systems across care settings.

A healthcare cloud data platform allows multiple entities to interoperate, share data securely and with strong access rights governance, and work seamlessly together in a free and open manner. It provides the only future-proofed path for successfully navigating today’s rapidly evolving and highly complex healthcare marketplace.

Put simply, what got healthcare here won’t get healthcare CXOs where they want to go tomorrow: the 95% of providers who want to achieve digital transformation in the next 2-5 years, according to Morning Consult.

We built the cloud data platform for healthcare so you don’t have to, so you can establish that second center of gravity quickly, easily, painlessly, in your organization, without having to abandon investments in your EHRs. Our data platform allows you to avoid investing three to five years to build a best-in-class infrastructure that is capable of rapidly connecting, ingesting, normalizing, and activating healthcare data. You can “start at step 7” to focus exclusively on your organization’s core competencies, the use case you need to meet, and deliver solutions that meet those business objectives in an insanely short amount of time.

Fig. 1: What starting at step 7 looks like

Moreover, unlike building something new on a legacy EHR data platform—where only about two-thirds of data types will be understood by a receiving system in even the most favorable of cases, according to JAMIA—establishing a sound foundation with a cloud data platform allows scale. It eliminates long-standing barriers to interoperability and pervasive, uniform data exchange that are essential to achieving digital transformation, value-based care transitions, and health equity—among the top goals of C-suite leaders in healthcare today.

Flipping the Script: From Cost Center to Revenue Driver

That said, here’s something that’s likely not among C-suite leaders’ top goals: flipping the CIO office from a cost center into a revenue generator.

I’m not speaking of using HIT to generate healthcare revenue through more wellness visits, health screenings, and so on. I’m talking about making it possible to monetize the innovations the healthcare IT team develops to improve care, financial, and operational outcomes.

A point solution will always be a cost center. But a data platform can be a revenue generator. For example, one of the country’s largest health systems is using our data platform and our Innovation Accelerators to build operational analytics for its network of more than 45 hospitals. The health system has thousands of providers working across more than 1,000 point-of-care settings.

That project is a cost center now, but when it's complete, it will become a revenue generator. This visionary health system plans to sell their solution to 60 other health systems now on our data platform—because they will have solved a common use case that many other health systems also need to solve. They will have also changed the classic build vs. buy equation into a build and sell equation by leveraging the ecosystem that only a data platform in the cloud can enable.

CIO offices at payers and payviders are embracing this novel view as well. One of the world’s largest payers, with tens of millions of members and approaching 100,000 physicians and nurses in its network, is looking at our data platform and Innovation Accelerators to rapidly assemble a comprehensive real-time enterprise dashboard. Powered by advanced analytics, it will measure health outcomes and cost, reveal how to change physician behaviors through digital workflows, and enrich member engagement to drive whole-person care.

What payer wouldn’t be interested in a market-proven dashboard that can do all that? Once they build it, they can offer it to other payers and payviders on the data platform. It’s a win-win; a field of data dreams. If you build it, they will come. The solution becomes a nationally scalable revenue driver that solves their internal use cases and helps other payers solve theirs. It could be seen as exclusively an expense. But by investing in a data platform in the short term, any healthcare organization gains the ability to create a revenue stream in the long term.

This profound conceptual and practical shift gets to the heart of why “the year of the platform” matters. Essentially any CIO, any healthcare system, can now become a digital health innovator in a commercial way, and go beyond digital transformation for their own organization. CIOs should not be thinking of their IT arms as a permanent cost center any longer. They should be expecting more and thinking of IT as a new type of digital health revenue stream. They can and will become digital health companies.

A Patient-Centered Data Platform for a Patient-Centered World

Yes, 2022 marks the Year of the Platform. We can’t and won’t be going back to walled EHR gardens, siloed IT systems, fragmented data; and build-it-yourself data infrastructures that take years to design, develop, and deploy before a single line of solution code aimed at solving the actual use case at hand (and is then years in the rear-view mirror) is committed.

This is a new beginning for healthcare and healthcare IT, where we can help our customers move from point solutions to platforms, from build vs. buy to build and sell, from solving one use case as a silo to being able to quickly innovate and solve use cases as fast as they arise—and each time, accelerating transformation by building on and extending the data platform—including use cases we can’t even conceive of or imagine yet. We must be ready for the future we see as well as the future we don’t expect.

Most importantly, this is the path to real-time patient-centered care that our customers want, with a fundamentally new infrastructure that can unleash the analytical and decision-making power of patient data trapped (and languishing!) in siloed systems. Healthcare stakeholders—whether HIT organizations, digital health companies, independent software vendors, and patients—can finally build and benefit from transformative applications, solutions, workflows, and analytics that share a unified patient record and interoperate transparently across the care continuum.

Establishing the data platform, in the cloud, is how we can achieve the full promise of whole-person care for every patient, every family, and every population—indeed, writ large, it's the path to improving the quality of life for every human being touched by our healthcare system.

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