Population health management system vendor ZeOmega announced this morning that it has acquired HealthUnity, which offers private and public HIE, MPI, referral management, and patient consent interoperability solutions. ZeOmega says the combined products will form a low-cost PHM infrastructure that overcomes EHR interoperability issues and allows payers and providers to drive value-based care.
I discussed the acquisition ahead of the announcement with Nandini Rangaswamy, co-founder, EVP, and chief strategy officer of ZeOmega.
Vendors of EHRs, HIE platforms, and population health management systems are all addressing population health management and analytics and insurance companies have acquired some big HIE and PHM players. What does the competitive landscape look like from ZeOmega’s perspective?
Hundreds of EMR, analytics, and HIE companies are trying to make a name in population health management, but they’re viewing PHM too narrowly. Competitors have some ingredients, but ZeOmega has an end-to-end strategy, anchored by what we call five pillars of PHM that includes the ability to drive an effective PHM program design and governance, aggregate data on the patient across the care continuum and all care settings, derive actionable insights from this data, enable effective real-time care coordination with those insights, and the ability to educate, engage and empower patients.
Acquiring HealthUnity lets ZeOmega close gaps in interoperability and patient resolution to become the industry’s first end-to-end PHM solution. So it’s my perspective that no other company can compete with our comprehensive offerings. That said, we will be competing with other companies who only have solutions for part of the care continuum. We’re so focused on doing what’s right for our clients, most of all eliminating information barriers to achieve real value-based care, so we probably will end up collaborating with come competitors’ solutions. We won’t shy away from that if it means enhancing value for our clients.
How do claims and psychosocial data fit into the set of information providers need to review a patient’s healthcare status?
In absence of interoperability, claims data can tell us about a patient’s health and their care-seeking and care-adherence behaviors. Psychosocial data can be used to determine factors that help influence and therefore predict patient behavior and outcomes. Analytics solutions that consider these variables can better predict the recommended course of action for the provider, which translates to more efficient use of provider resources while maximizing opportunities to impact patient health.
It’s easier to use an example. Let’s say a patient is being admitted for bypass surgery. Claims data can show if the patient has multiple co-morbidities, is taking multiple medications, or has a prior diagnosis of diabetes or a history of depression. Good analytics processes this data and identifies the patient as high-risk for readmission and hospital associated infections, perhaps even ICU psychosis, and may recommend an action plan to mitigate these risks, whether it’s by focusing on infection-risk areas or through medication reconciliation or tighter care transition.
Psychosocial factors can help determine the patient’s readiness to change. If an individual at high risk for diabetes is not motivated to change due to a situation in the family, the best thing to do may be to leave him alone until that situation changes for the better rather than spend costly resources to try to engage that patient.
Managing populations requires not just data, but making that data actionable so that busy clinicians don’t have to pore over records looking for ways to intervene proactively. How well is the industry transitioning to that model?
The industry is starting to see the value of actionable insight as they grapple with the challenge of providing timely and effective care while taking on outcomes risk with fewer resources. The industry is facing an information overload. It now also recognizes that insights from data alone are not sufficient.
Analytic capabilities can provide insights based on the data. However, if that insight isn’t actionable, then an organization may end up using valuable resources to translate that insight into the right action. For example, it’s relatively easy to tell from the claims data that an individual has diabetes but no foot exam and therefore has a gap in care. Actionable insights recommend a course of action. So knowing that the diabetic is a single mom, eligible for Medicaid, and at home with a sick child helps determine that the next best thing to do is to schedule a home health visit to cover the foot exam or provide for temporary child support so that the patient can make it to the doctor’s office. PHM platforms that deliver this effectively will make the industry’s transition to this model quicker.
How will you integrate HealthUnity’s offerings with those of ZeOmega?
HealthUnity’s portfolio of interoperability offerings – whether it’s their private and regional HIEs, patient resolution solutions, patient consent solutions, or referral management — are very complementary to ZeOmega’s solutions and will be offered as part of the Jiva PHM stack. Technologically, the integration between the HIE, master person index, and Jiva PHM platforms lets us develop a rapidly deployable infrastructure that payers and providers alike can leverage to better coordinate care and improve outcomes.
How does the acquisition fit with ONC’s interoperability roadmap?
ONC laid out 10 guiding principles and building blocks in Connecting Health and Care for the Nation. Acquiring HealthUnity helps ZeOmega meet ONC principles even better, whether that be flexibility, configurability, adaptability, reusability, simplification, modularity, privacy and security, or scalability and access.
For example, HealthUnity’s HIE supports multiple industry data exchange standards. Its Universal Patient Consent solution empowers the individual to designate which provider can see specific portions of their health record, while capabilities such as EHNAC-certified direct messaging capabilities enable providers to collaborate even though some may have less sophisticated infrastructure than others.
The HealthUnity acquisition further strengthens ZeOmega so we can continue making investments to keep our company and our clients in lockstep with the ONC’s 10-year vision.