Signaling IPO ahead, Health Catalyst brings finance guru aboard

'They’ve been staging themselves to grow, which is very important'
By Bernie Monegain
10:03 AM
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A telling sign that Health Catalyst is gearing up for an IPO is the announcement today that Jack Kane (John A. Kane) is joining the board of the data warehousing, analytics and outcomes company.

Kane brings financial heft and more than 30 years of experience as a healthcare technology company CFO and board director. Since 2007, he has been a director and audit committee chair of athenahealth, where he helped to oversee the company's several acquisitions and growth. He joined the athenahealth board just two months prior to the IPO.

Kane served as senior vice president, CFO and treasurer of IDX Systems until GE acquired the company in 2006. He had been with IDX for 22 years, guiding the company through its IPO and more than a dozen acquisitions.

"I'm not sure of any definitive timing of an IPO, but companies start preparing even a few years ahead of time," Kane told Healthcare IT News this week, adding that he had yet to attend his first board meeting.

"My sense is that it's one of the things they wanted," he said. "They've been staging themselves to grow, which is very important. If they're smart they're preparing for that, just in case they want to do it."

This past August, Health Catalyst acquired a rival company Health Care DataWorks, which, like Health Catalyst, worked on employing data to improve patient outcomes. The acquisition added 28 members to its employee roster of more than 400 people.

[See also: Health Catalyst acquires rival HCD.]

"The space itself is very interesting to me," Kane said.

"It's pretty obvious that this industry has historically been revenue generating, or optimizing revenue," Kane said. "We're still in that mode, but with risk being shared more and more in accountable care organizations, I think that's going to flip. And then revenue probably will be more stabilized. And, so reducing expenses and improving quality will be more important.  And, a broad set of data is required to make that happen."

Health Catalyst has dealt in data since its inception.

Steve Barlow and Thomas Burton, both with their roots at Intermountain Healthcare, founded Health Catalyst in 2008.

It wouldn't be long before Todd Cozzens would notice this data-driven startup and compare it favorably to what he called the 'big box vendors'.

"It's much more intuitive, much more clinically focused," Cozzens told Healthcare IT News back in 2013. "The other piece is this incredible content they have around waste reduction, LEAN process, Six Sigma. You take these two core competencies, and it goes way beyond an electronic data warehouse. It's a performance management and care transformation system all in one."

Health Catalyst has grown by leaps since then, and Cozzens, who once sat on the IDX board, today is managing director of Leerink Capital and also a member of the Health Catalyst Board of Directors.

That Kane already knew a couple members of the Health Catalyst board further piqued his interest in the company. He also noted that the company has "a great suite of investors." Several investors are also customers of the company.

[See also: A health IT partnership like no other.]

As for Health Catalyst, its leaders are please to have him onboard.

"Health Catalyst is thrilled to bring such a well-respected and veteran healthcare technology executive to our board of directors," Health Catalyst CEO Dan Burton said in a press statement announcing Kane's appointment. "Jack will prove to be a strategic asset given his vast experience as a CFO and board director, and his unique knowledge of the healthcare technology industry."

"While some other companies have gone public at our size, we want to make sure we can be a really successful, predictable public company, so we wanted to achieve some additional size and scale before going public,"Burton told Healthcare IT News earlier this year. "We have no doubt that's the path that we're on," Burton said. "We just want to make sure we're really ready to be very, very effective once we get there."

[See also: Eyeing IPO, Health Catalyst lands $70M.]

At the time - March 17, 2015 - Health Catalyst had raised $70 million in an over-subscribed fourth round of funding.

"Jack's significant financial accounting and board experience will provide valuable expertise to Health Catalyst's Board and its Audit Committee as the company executes on its strategic imperatives in 2016 and beyond," Fraser Bullock, a founder and managing director of Sorenson Capital and chairman of Health Catalyst, commented in a news release.

Besides Bullock, Burton and Kane, the Health Catalyst Board of Directors includes: Penny Wheeler, MD, president and CEO of Allina Health; Michael Dixon, partner at Sequoia Capital; Promod Haque, senior managing partner of Norwest Venture Partners; Todd Cozzens, managing director of Leerink Capital; and Steve Barlow, executive vice president and co-founder of Health Catalyst.