Cardinal Analytx, a new population health management company founded by Cardinal Partners investor Thomas McKinley based on research from Stanford University, has raised $6.1 million. Cardinal Partners led the round, with participation from the Stanford-StartX Fund and Premera Blue Cross, which also participated in a large pilot study that has provided some initial validation for the company.
The company builds on the research of Dr. Arnold Milstein and Dr. Nigam Shah, whose areas of expertise include managed care and machine learning in healthcare.
Cardinal Analytx does a couple of things differently than existing population health analytics companies, according to McKinley. First and foremost, the company is built on a machine learning algorithm that focuses on identifying health plan member who aren’t currently high spenders, but are set to become high spenders in the future.
“Arnie’s rationale is most effort goes into looking for persistent high-cost people, the 40 percent of the population that spends the bulk of the money,” McKinley told MobiHealthNews. “But in fact, a large percentage of high spenders in 2017 were not high spenders in 2016. So, he said, let’s focus on that. So he and Professor Shah worked with a database in Denmark and they created a very good model for predicting these high-cost people.”
In its pilot of 1.4 million members with Premera, Cardinal Analytx’s algorithm generated a list of at-risk members, 67 percent of whom had not been identified by Premera’s existing systems. The majority of those patients did have high costs in the following year as predicted.
But beyond the algorithm, Cardinal Analytx is also focused on helping to change those members’ fates.
“The next question is really, for those people, what can we do to improve care and decrease costs,” Afsana Akhter, EVP of sales at Cardinal Analytx, told MobiHealthNews. “Today, in most environments, translating the outputs of algorithms to an effective clinical action is a big gap. So the way we’re bridging that gap is … we are creating actionable care plans that we are handing to care management organizations, and we will also be delivering to physicians and provider groups. And they can take those very precise care plans and clinical recommendations and apply them to their members and patients to improve care and thereby better manage the cost.”
In addition to Premera, McKinley says the company has two or three additional Blues in the pipeline and another pilot ready to launch soon.
McKinley says the company’s focus on identifying an underserved population of patients, providing actionable care plans for that population, and a focus on patient engagement will set the company apart.
“That’s what makes us passionate about the company and the team,” he said. “We’re not another solution that’s ‘cost savings using AI.' It’s ‘How do we get member engagement and accessibility and better quality of care?’ So they’re really thinking long term and their clients are thinking long term.”