Intermountain, Deloitte put data to work

Initiative designed to provide insights derived from Intermountain data to help transform healthcare
By Bernie Monegain
09:05 AM
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Intermountain CIO Mark Probst

Deloitte, which bills itself as the world's largest health consultancy, and Intermountain Healthcare, known around the world for its pioneering work in healthcare informatics, are teaming up to help transform healthcare. The tools: brain power, experience, new technology and vast amounts of data – two trillion unique medical data elements, collected over 40 years. The goal: sharing the insights derived from mining and analyzing the Intermountain data with physicians, hospitals, manufacturers, vendors and payers across the country.

In a recently forged five-year-deal, announced February 28, Deloitte and Intermountain will work together to tap the data Intermountain has accumulated – going back to the1970s. Because of the longitudinal nature of the clinical and financial data amassed from Intermountain’s 22 hospitals and 200 clinics, it is particularly effective for medical studies and analyzing optimal treatments for many health conditions, the partners say.

To make the work of providing insights a success, Deloitte, with Intermountain’s input, has built new technology. The insight products become available June 1 on a subscription basis. Deloitte and Intermountain will release a product schedule at HIMSS13.

As Intermountain CIO Mark Probst sees it, the deal “will help usher in a new wave of innovation throughout the nation’s health system. The use of our technologies will allow clinicians and researchers to more quickly discover practices that improve quality and keep costs lower.  Research studies that previously might have taken years to complete could be conducted in just a few weeks instead.”

“Intermountain has had a legacy of health informatics,” says Probst. “We just have a long legacy of that – a lot of skill.”

Intermountain built on that legacy, forming in 2011 the Homer Warner Center, housed in a new building and equipped with infrastructure around medical informatics and analytics.

Yet, even as informaticists began to work at the center, Probst and his team were thinking about what might be next. They concluded, “We really need to be able to present this more cohesively – as a strength of Intermountain, and as something we think is important in transforming healthcare.” Intermountain leaders were also eager to bring in more revenue to help support the nonprofit’s care-giving mission. They recognized Intermountain's data as a strong asset, but they were adamant from day one they would not sell data, Probst says.

[See also: Intermountain, Geisinger share the spotlight in Obama talk.]

“We had what we thought was something of value,” he said. The Intermountain team began looking for a partner and met and assessed several firms. Deloitte, Probst said, came up with the most exciting and appropriate approach. The concept of providing insight that would enable organizations across the healthcare sector – physicians, hospitals, manufacturers, vendors, payers and others to produce better outcomes, make better products, lower costs and innovate.

“We were very excited and interested in a partner like Intermountain,” said Andrew Vaz, principal and chief innovation officer at Deloitte (pictured at right). “While we have the largest and leading professional services consulting practice in healthcare and life sciences, for us the mission has always been to more actively participate in the transformation of healthcare – to be part of the fabric of the solutions that are being developed – and not just be a consultant to the industry.”

[See also: A sign of the times: Deloitte acquires Recombinant.]

“This collaboration is indeed creating a destination point for organizations interested in understanding what works and doesn’t work in healthcare and for whom and what products,” says Asif Dhar, MD, principal and chief medical informatics officer for Deloitte (pictured at left). “So, it is a substantial business that certainly Deloitte is embarking upon. We prefer to look at it more like a solution than a business because obviously solving healthcare is first – and our collective mission.

“As opposed to selling large swathes of data, we’re bringing fairly sophisticated analytics on real live data,” explains Dhar. “We’re going to release insights based on a kind of therapeutic area analytics engine.

The insights typically are of two types, he says. What therapies or combinations of therapies tend to provide the most meaningful improvements and outcomes for which populations.

"So if you’re looking at a series of asthmatic patients what therapies or combinations of therapies tend to improve specific cohorts, and what you realize is that a population of asthmatics isn’t the common denominator, but broken up into many different subpopulations of people that have all sorts of different characteristics.," says Dhar. "What we’re able to do is get down to those more individualized characteristics and figure out what’s working and not working. So that’s very powerful."

Manufacturers who are concerned about their products really having a positive impact on the intended health outcomes, would also find significant interest in understanding what’s working and what’s not, and who’s receiving the best benefit and who’s not, Dhar adds, and maybe address some safety issues along the way so they can optimize their product and its sale for the most appropriate populations.

Probst emphasizes that while Deloitte and Intermountain are the initial collaborators in this venture, “it isn’t the intent of just to be surfacing Intermountain data to the potential consumers of this insight. It’s broader and more august than that.”

“Our intent is to work with many organizations,” Dhar agrees, "and we’ve got a number of them that are already interested in joining this community. This is fully anticipated to be the start of a growing community. The intent is to create a community that will create kind of a nationwide learning system.”

“We fully intend to work across the entire health value chain – all the health sectors that meaningfully want to understand what’s working and what’s not in healthcare,” Dhar adds. “The uniqueness about what we’ve created is a business model that really puts the patient at the center of the process and really supports and focuses on their care and improving it. So, life science companies that are looking for additional insights in terms of products that are in the market, it’d be great for them to learn about what’s working or not working with their products in the real world.”