Partners forges huge pop health deal

Partners HealthCare, Health Catalyst team intent on transforming care
By Bernie Monegain
07:56 AM

In an unprecedented alliance between client and vendor, Boston-based Partners HealthCare, the client, and Salt Lake City-based Health Catalyst, the vendor, have agreed to share best practices, intellectual property, technology and training in an effort to take population health management to new heights.

Money is involved – at least $30 million. Partners, which is already invested in Health Catalyst, raised its equity ownership stake in the growing health data warehousing and analytics company. Health Catalyst, meanwhile, is investing in money, time and effort in the initiative.

[See also: Partners and Health Catalyst join forces and Partners' CIO on big hope for big data.]

Neither party is saying much about the financial piece of the deal. Nor are they unraveling how much capital either partner is contributing to which aspect of the collaboration. Both, however, are eager to emphasize the goals and the expected gains from their unique collaboration.

As Timothy G. Ferris, MD, Partners' senior vice president of population health management sees it, the health system's agreement with Health Catalyst will turbocharge its care management program and improve outcomes for its patients.

Ferris, a practicing internist, pediatrician and Harvard professor, who has spent more than two decades focused on health policy and care coordination, is vice president of population health management at Partners HealthCare. Ferris will lead the new population health management center at Partners. Both Partners HealthCare and Health Catalyst teams will train there in population health management.

The goal, says Ferris, is to provide the infrastructure and knowledge base for broader outcomes transformation, not just for Partners HealthCare, but also for healthcare organizations across the country.

One key element of the deal between Partners and Health Catalyst is an agreement not only to create new technology, which Partners HealthCare has already done supported by its Health Catalyst platform, but also to make the new technology available to other health systems by commercializing it.

"We saw some of the innovations they had developed, specifically in the area of care management and population health management, as being very, very impressive," Health Catalyst CEO Dan Burton told Healthcare IT News.
"As we talked about what they had developed," Burton said, "our assessment was that these are relevant to the broader market. They were interested in the opportunity to commercialize. I think they were intrigued at the possibility of using Health Catalyst as the commercialization partner or agent. And we were interested in and excited about being the commercialization partner."

"We're not disclosing the price tag," Burton added, "but the terms include cash and equity. So Partners is deepening its equity stake as part of this commercialization process."

For its part, Health Catalyst is granting Partners HealthCare "an enterprise-wide, complete subscription to our entire library of everything we have built, everything we are building, everything we will build in the future," Burton said. "The best way to further Partners Healthcare's objectives – and to further the commercialization of care management and broader health population management IT, was this expansion of our technology and professional services relationship."

"It's similar to discussions that we had with Allina Health, where they developed some IT that we felt was compelling; it was tested in the field, and it had produced real outcomes, improvements," Burton said. "We were interested in and excited about being the commercialization partner."

The collaboration with Partners HealthCare is not the first partnership Health Catalyst has crafted with its clients. Besides the collaboration with Allina Health, its first customer, which had developed information technology that tested well in the field and produced outcomes and improvements, Health Catalyst also has partnership agreement with a few of its other clients.

[See also: Allina goes all in for outcomes with Health Catalyst.]

The Health Catalyst relationship with Partners HealthCare calls for the former to purchase meaningful care management and population health IP from the latter, so the two can jointly commercialize the technology by using Health Catalyst as the commercialization engine.
"We very much look forward to working with Health Catalyst to enable greater use of analytics within our system," Ferris said. "So, that's one piece of it." The second piece, he said, is about the collaboration around Partners' population health information management programs.

"We're excited about working with them in further development," Ferris said. "Despite our successes in population health management, we are nowhere near done innovating, demonstrating our ability to move the needle on quality and cost. Partnering with Health Catalyst allows us an opportunity to share those practices much more widely as we continue to innovate."
Summary of the agreement
The expanded agreement between Partners HealthCare and Health Catalyst includes four major elements:

  • Health Catalyst and Partners HealthCare will collaborate through the creation of a new Partners HealthCare Center for Population Health. The Center will train Health Catalyst and Partners HealthCare clinical and administrative teams in best practices for care management and population health, building on the knowledge base that enabled Partners HealthCare to save $40 million in providing care to the seniors as part of the federal government's Pioneer accountable care organization from 2012 to 2014. Health Catalyst graduates of the program will disseminate these best practices to client healthcare organizations across the country.
  • Health Catalyst is licensing technology, content and analytics innovations that Partners HealthCare, the Massachusetts General Physician Organization and the Brigham and Women's Physician Organization developed as part of its decade-long, nationally recognized care management and population health management programs. Health Catalyst intends to commercialize these innovations to further enhance Partners HealthCare's population health and care management programs, and to benefit other health systems in their care management and population health initiatives.
  • Partners HealthCare has signed an expanded enterprise-wide technology subscription agreement, giving it access to Health Catalyst's full suite of technology solutions to accelerate outcomes improvement. In keeping with Health Catalyst's mission to improve outcomes, a portion of the company's revenue from the subscription will be tied to the attainment of measureable improvements in Partners HealthCare's clinical and financial performance.
  • Partners HealthCare is increasing its equity ownership stake in Health Catalyst, after first investing in the company in 2013.