Health Catalyst unleashes DOS to make data use more effective

By Jeff Lagasse
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Healthcare analytics and decision support company Health Catalyst has just introduced a new engineering approach called the Health Catalyst Data Operating System, or DOS (not to be confused with the ancient PC operating system). DOS combines the features of data warehousing, clinical data repositories and health information exchanges into a single technology platform.

Healthcare trails all American industries except hospitality, construction and agriculture in its adoption of digital technologies, according to McKinsey. Yet healthcare organizations are among the most complex enterprises in the world. That digital disparity sometimes forces hospitals, health systems and physician practices to make high-risk decisions using untimely, incomplete, or inaccurate data. Patients, for their part, are mostly left out of this data ecosystem; it could help them be more accountable and engaged in their own care.

Traditional data warehousing, which solved some of these problems, is no longer good enough, according to Health Catalyst. As Gartner recently reported, traditional data warehousing will be outdated and replaced by new architectures by the end of 2018.

That’s where DOS comes in. The philosophy behind it is that healthcare’s future will be centered around the broad and more effective use of data.

From population health management to value based care, healthcare providers face a quagmire of reimbursement schemes and quality initiatives, each requiring precise analysis of clinical, financial and patient data. Yet to get there they must unravel a Gordian knot of diverse information systems that can’t communicate with each other and that separately lack the data needed to succeed. The explosion of information from wearables, mobile phones, genomics and other sources outside the traditional healthcare sphere is exacerbating these problems, while also enabling personalized healthcare and management as never before, assuming organizations can manage the transformation.

DOS steps in as a vendor-agnostic digital backbone for healthcare. Organizations using DOS will be able to inject workflow information systems with point-of-decision insights, in theory significantly increasing the value of the EHR to care providers.

Based on modern software and data engineering tools adopted from Silicon Valley, and the outcome of a multi-year, $200 million development process, DOS was designed from the beginning to harness open source technologies and Application Programming Interfaces. With DOS, Health Catalyst's new generation software applications can be designed and developed in a fraction of the time, and with a "decision support first" mindset, by reusing existing data. The same applies to third-party application development, which can utilize DOS for the benefit of Health Catalyst's clients.

Among DOS’ benefits to healthcare organizations are much faster software application development; apps that can be customized to different disciplines; and the elimination of generic, impersonal healthcare workflow and patient care.

Additionally, Health Catalyst touts DOS’ main features: reusable clinical and business logic, streaming data, the integration of structured and unstructured data, EHR integration, machine learning, microservices architecture, and an agnostic “data lake.”

Health Catalyst clients can watch the development of DOS via the Health Catalyst Community.