Big Data may be a word that is thrown a lot these days in health care circles, and the word signifies both promise and peril.
For medtech companies, however, data has not been a priority and that needs to change, advises Jonas Funk, managing director and partner at L.E.K. Consulting. Big Data may be intimidating but there are a host of companies out there that can help get meaningful bytes out of it. And that will prove invaluable for medtech firms in the near future.
That's because as providers demand cheaper and cheaper prices for products that they sometimes find indistinguishable from those of competitors, medtech companies can defend their margins by showing comparative effectiveness data. Something that shows that the product is clinically and economically superior. That can even help to charge a premium.
"The ultimate goal is outcome-based pricing, but you can’t get there without data," Funk said in a recent interview in Minneapolis. "Without data, you can’t measure, you can’t track, you can’t promise."
And yet, medtech companies have remained happy in their own corner of the healthcare universe, defending their turf when necessary, and rarely being required to engage with entities that weren't either physicians or group purchasing organizations. The time for change is here and now.
"Some medtech companies are famous for not being good partners, but many will need to partner and collaborate to fill gaps in data and analytics," Funk said. "I would encourage device companies to consider active collaboration with data, analytics and healthcare IT companies."
|Hear from the Director of Watson Technologies about Big Data in Healthcare at the MD&M East Conference & Expo, June 10, in New York City.|
The message of collaboration, in general, seems to be getting across. In a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of global CEOs released earlier this year, 53% of life sciences CEOs said they were planning to enter into strategic partnership, joint venture or collaboration in 2014.
If these firms do intend to partner with data firms, what kinds of companies should they consider? Here are a few that Funk recommends although these are many others. In no particular order:
- Optum  - This is insurance giant UnitedHealth Group's, technology, health IT and data services group. The business also helps life science companies to access integrated clinical and claims data as well as provide health economics and outcomes research services.
- Explorys  - This company can help life science firms leverage Big Data through a cloud-based software platform that pulls data on about 38.5 million covered people. That helps "collaboration and collective intelligence that drives discovery into new and better models for care delivery and quality," the website notes.
- Humedica Northstar  - Part of Optum, this company helps life science firms to unlock value from millions of deidentified EHRs. It can identify clinical outcomes among specific patient segments, and help in maximizing pricing and reimbursement among other things.
- InterSystems  - This company serves different industries but medtech companies like Baxter, Beckman Coulter and Smiths Medical have used its software to "integrate their products with hospital systems, and to aggregate data for analysis and improvement of products and care," says InterSystems' website.
- Verisk Health  - This company helps providers, payers and employers "mitigate risk, reduce costs and improve patient outcomes with data-driven solutions," according to its website.
- Truven Health Analytics  - Truven offers consulting services, as well as health economics or outcomes research.It's MarketScan databases have information on 180 million ilves going back to 1995.