An interview with David Grauer, Senior Vice President, Health Catalyst.

Putting data and analytics tools in the hands of a broader audience

By Dean Koh
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Above photo: David Grauer, SVP of Health Catalyst.

As the former CEO of Intermountain Medical Centre, a 502-bed hospital in suburban Salt Lake City, Utah in the US, as well almost two decades of experience in executive leadership positions at Intermountain Healthcare, David Grauer is well-versed in improving the quality of healthcare while reducing its costs. Now in his role as the SVP of Health Catalyst, a mission-driven data warehousing, analytics and outcomes-improvement company, David is leveraging his expertise to support the healthcare transformation processes of the company’s client partners. 

He believes that data and analytics should be engaged at a broader level with staff members such as clinicians, not just in the hands of IT teams, to ensure greater buy-in and ultimately, to drive process improvements and better health outcomes. 

MobiHealthNews: Could you tell us more about your role as SVP at Health Catalyst?

Grauer: Health Catalyst is a leading provider of data and analytics technology and services to healthcare organisations, committed to being the catalyst for massive, measurable, data-informed healthcare improvement. I have been a part of the Health Catalyst team for three years and my role is split into two main areas of focus.  The first is to work directly with several of our client partners to support their healthcare transformation efforts and to oversee the teams of people that Health Catalyst has deployed to those client sites.  

Secondly, I am part of an Executive Advisory Group at Health Catalyst that provides consulting services to our clients. My area of consulting focus has been on executive governance and the leadership structures necessary to execute on transformation and improvement initiatives.The Executive Advisory Group also partners with the Health Catalyst Sales Team to consult, share experiences and connect with prospective clients.  

MobiHealthNews: You will be one of the panelists during the panel discussion on value creation in healthcare at the upcoming HIMSS AsiaPac19 conference in October held in Bangkok, Thailand. What does value creation in healthcare mean for you in the context of your role at Health Catalyst?

Grauer: We feel like we add value when we help our clients achieve measurable improvements in their performance; operationally, clinically or financially.  In fact, we measure our success based on the numbers of lives saved or impacted and improved, as well as on dollars saved. Healthcare organisations are under enormous pressure from a variety of angles, including competitive, regulatory and financial pressures, as well as a dynamic and shifting market environment, to name a few.  When we help our clients to improve their services and performance, and better meet the needs of their patients and communities, we add value to the broader healthcare community.  

MobiHealthNews: Health Catalyst launched its Data Operating System (DOS) in 2017, which combines the features of data warehousing, clinical data repositories and health information exchanges into a single technology platform. Could you tell us more about DOS and share with us some the latest developments regarding DOS?

Grauer: The foundation of the Health Catalyst offering is our Data Operating System (DOS), our data integration platform hosted in Microsoft Azure. DOS manages data ingestion and integration to centralize reporting, support the work of data analysts, and make data available to applications developed by Health Catalyst, our clients, and third parties. DOS facilitates the development and deployment of predictive and risk models as well as using application programing interfaces (APIs) to connect and push data to source systems. The adaptive data model leveraged by DOS enables the creation of standard shared data marts as well as the rapid development of custom subject-specific data marts.

The Data Operating System (DOS) has an embedded framework for defining measure logic, evaluating measures on a frequent basis, and making measure results available to analysts and applications. Since all measures are constructed using the same framework, they may be deployed in any combination, regardless of purpose or source.  Benchmark data follows the same pattern. 

We offer a growing library of applications and accelerators as targeted starter sets that provide at least 80 percent of the specific use case need. Our partnership approach and flexible technology close the gap quickly and provide our customers with an in depth understanding of the final product. The bottom line is that we offer a toolbox, not a black box solution.

MobiHealthNews: What do you think are some of the common challenges for healthcare organisations face in approaching data integration and trying to gain more insights from data?

Grauer: There are many challenges, but there are a few that are especially common. These include the challenges of adoption or change management, the engagement of employees and physicians, a scarcity of resources, both financial and human, and the inability to prioritize or focus on a few key areas for action.  Analytics and a data driven approach will identify many opportunities for improvement and I have watched many organisations struggle to choose those that are most important and best aligned with the overall strategic objectives.  

Perhaps one more challenge is that too many people and organisations think about data and analytics as dwelling only in the realm of the information systems or technology teams.  This is a mistake; successful use of data requires broad engagement and participation. The information and technology teams need to work in partnership with, and in support of, the clinical and operational teams addressing the process improvement opportunities.

MobiHealthNews: What are some trends/developments that you observe in healthcare analytics and what excites you about the future?

Grauer: I am excited to see more and more healthcare organisations thinking about, and using, data as a strategic asset to be managed and used as part of a broader vision.  The data strategy can no longer exist in isolation and must be embedded in an overall improvement strategy. As part of this, there is greater recognition that use of data can be transformational rather than simply transactional, as it often was in the past.  

I am also seeing more and more organizations putting the data and analytics tools in the hands of a broader audience. This means, for example, empowering those who have a fundamental understanding of the key processes, like the clinical teams, and how to change them. This is how we will get meaningful change in our industry, and this is cause of excitement and optimism!   

David Grauer is a panelist at the opening keynote plenary happening on October 7 at the upcoming HIMSS AsiaPac19 Conference. Early bird rates for conference registration are still ongoing and more details can be found here.