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Kyruus brings Big Data to health care. Podcast interview with co-founder Julie Yoo (transcript)

Posted May 01 2012 8:05am

This is the transcript of my recent podcast interview with Julie Yoo of Kyruus.

David Williams: This is David E. Williams , co-founder of MedPharma Partners and author of the Health Business Blog. I’m speaking today with Julie Yoo, co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Kyruus . Julie, thanks for being with me today.

Julie Yoo: Thank you, David. Great to be here.

Williams: What is Kyruus?

Yoo: Kyruus is a “Big Data” driven health care services company based in Boston, Massachusetts. We work with any organization in health care that manages a large network of physicians. We take an approach that we call Physician Network Optimization.

We use data and analytics to help understand the distribution of value and risk across these large physician networks, and use the insights generated from that data to help optimize behavior and performance across those networks as well.

Williams: That sounds impressive. From the standpoint of a customer who’s interested in network development and referral management, what kind of business problem are they solving and how do you help them with that?

Yoo: Referral network management is a great market to talk about, given that it’s at the front of every CEO’s mind in the hospital and health care industry today. Given the economic pressures and the competitive dynamics of today’s hospital and health care industry, many organizations are seeking to maximize inbound business to their facilities. For example, having a mechanism to identify and conduct outreach to primary care physicians who have rich populations of patients who may benefit from specialist services of a given facility. Then also thinking about existing physician networks and maximizing the value within those.

In addition, organizations are concerned about leakage. We can help hospitals understand where business is leaving their facilities and where there’s opportunity to keep patients within the system to receive optimal care and care coordination. This includes educating physicians within the network about the services and specialists who are available, and the potential best clinical match for a given patient using the types of data that we have.

Williams: I would expect that sophisticated hospital system or health system would have a lot of that kind of information. Are you able to add value to what they already have?

Yoo: As it turns out David, many of our facilities struggle with one of two things. One is, it turns out that a number of facilities struggle with maintaining the most up to date information about physicians on their staff.

As we all know, many of the traditional processes for collecting and maintaining information about physicians are very manual, are done on a periodic basis –maybe annually or every other year– in conjunction with credentialing and other processes.

Therefore, we’ve seen huge struggles around making sure that even basic information like affiliations and where individuals are practicing are up to date and accurate across the network. That’s one big issue;  we actually help our customers from the get go.

The second big issue is the rapidity with which this information is changing. Part of our value proposition is the fact that information in the public domain is growing exponentially. Consumers are now arming themselves with information that’s available on the web and bringing that to their doctors, saying, “Hey, I’ve looked up this particular doctor, here’s the information that I have on them.”

Oftentimes it catches clinicians by surprise. So a part of what we offer is a monitoring and verification service whereby we are mining information from thousands of publicly available data sources to ensure that these facilities can maintain up to date, accurate, and dynamic databases associated with this information.

Williams: It’s interesting that at the same time these organizations are struggling with managing their own internal data, there’s a flood of data on the web and the public domain that may be coming into their organization and not brought by their own employees or executives, but by consumers.

Can you comment on the area of compliance and transparency regarding industry payments to physicians. I know with the Sunshine Act, there’s a lot more data that’s out there. Does that figure into your work as well?

Yoo: Absolutely. A core part of our offering is that we have what we believe to be the industry leading database on all physician/industry interactions . As you allude to, that is a trend that started a couple of years ago with the institution of a number of settlements with large pharmaceutical and medical device companies whereby they were required to disclose this information into the public domain.

There is an impending law associated with health reform that will require all manufacturers to disclose that information in the next couple of years. In addition to that, a number of the more unstructured data sources are out there that we mine. These include scholarly publications, conference proceedings, guideline committee proceedings, and things of that nature that contain self-reported disclosures from physicians and other clinician researchers that can be mined to effectively understand these relationships.

We provide data on what types of relationships are happening and what sort of potential conflicts of interest they might pose to institutions that we work with.

A core part of our service is mining a universe of data, providing that back as a service to institutions and individual physicians so that they can monitor and manage their public profile, and also comply with existing policies and regulations that are in place within their institutions and with state and federal regulators.

Williams: You mentioned the term, ‘Big Data’ at the start of our discussion. It’s a term that I hear a lot. I hear it so much that it makes me wonder if there is a hype factor attached to it. Is Big Data something fundamentally different or is it just an evolution from medium-large data to large data, to really big data?

Yoo: We certainly embrace the term, but also the actual implementation of Big Data technologies. We’ve seen the evolution of data-oriented technologies over the last several decades. Initially it was simply the concept of data storage. We had a whole era of data storage companies emerging, such as Teradata and Oracle.

Once we were able to store data in a sophisticated way, we started asking questions of that data. Out of that was born search oriented technology. The world and all sorts of businesses benefited from that paradigm. We then saw migration into the world of business intelligence, where more sophisticated users carried out massive, highly structured databases of things like financial data. Many industries reap benefits from that.

We very much see Big Data as the next step in that evolution. It’s the ability to effectively integrate, aggregate, and analyze massive sets of information, but also generate novel insights from that.

Being able to integrate never-before-joined data sources and generate insights from that is something that will not only have a foothold in our society for the foreseeable future, but will also enable a whole set of new industries and new ways of doing business, like all those previous data technologies have done over the last few years.

Williams: There’s a tremendous amount of technology involved in Kyruus, but you also have people and are growing your staff. What’s the profile of  the current team? How would you anticipate that changing over the next year or two?

Yoo: We have a phenomenal team here. We’ve been very fortunate to attract a number of like-minded folks from both non-health care and health care oriented industries. Therefore we have benefited from many of the best practices that have worked very well in other areas; we are bringing that into the health care space. We’ve got engineers coming from all sorts of disciplines including financial services, e-commerce, retail, and travel.

We are bringing many of the Big Data principles to bear on the health care system, but have also brought in deep domain expertise from folks who have been embedded in the health care system for many years. They have worked with many of the data types and data questions that we are looking to answer through our platform for our customers. That has created a unique environment here at Kyruus.

We are continuously growing. We’ve grown 10x over the last year, starting with just a handful of folks to where we are today. We’re benefiting from being here in the Boston area, where clearly there’s a mixture of talent and companies that are seeding talents into the market. Many recent acquisitions have really created a flood of great engineering and business talent in the area that we are really able to take advantage of.

Williams: I’ve been speaking today with Julie Yoo. She’s co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Kyruus. We’ve been talking about big data in health care. Julie, thanks so much.

Yoo: Thank you, David.


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