Health Catalyst: Solving Data in Healthcare

Health Catalyst is a rare story of success in the difficult area of cataloguing and translation of healthcare data into actionable insight.


  • Healthcare lags most other industries in its adoption of digital technologies and implementation of useful data-driven tools
  • Health Catalyst is a rare story of success
  • By focusing on deriving actionable insights, Health Catalyst has created a wide array of data tools that drive robust improvement in healthcare delivery
  • And they are only getting better with their latest artificial intelligence capabilities


Health Catalyst is a champion in the woefully underdeveloped arena of data-driven analytics and tools in healthcare.



In the US, healthcare lags most other industries in adoption of digital technologies and implementation of data-driven tools that have tangible and measurable impact [1]. The data in the industry is housed in a wide variety of independent and incompatible formats and architectures, within different information technology systems and electronic health records. Most of these systems do not communicate well, and it is difficult to extract data out of them. Where available, information is largely housed in dumb data warehouses, and not translated into actionable insights.


Healthcare Catalyst solves these problems. Their approach focuses on addressing 3 core questions [2]:

  1. What should they be doing? (best practices)
  2. How are we doing? (analytics)
  3. How do we transform? (adoption)


They couple these questions with two very specific goals: process improvement and decision support. There are abundant clinical and administrative processes in healthcare, and many of them are inefficient, contributing to 1T (trillion) dollars of wasted health spending out of an overall spending of 2.5T [3]. The opportunities for efficiency are large and important. And there are multitude clinical decisions made by providers to deliver care to patients. These are largely uninformed by outcomes data because the data is inaccessible and unhelpful as described above. Healthcare Catalyst seeks to apply their technology to both goals to develop tools that drive improvement in outcomes for patients and health systems. They are able to capture this value creation by saving costs for and selling services to both health systems and large insurers.



Their data strategy begins with Late-Binding Architecture. This proprietary system is the core of their advantage. It allows for health systems to collect data from all their different software solutions and many analytics vendors [4] to create a smartly categorized data warehouse in real time that can fit into an enterprise data model [5].



With this capability in place, they can nimbly and effectively develop a wide array of specific tools to support health systems [2].



Managers of hospitals and health systems have been able to use these tools to drive quantifiable change that had not previously been possible. Now, their partners and clients include over 250 hospitals and more than 3000 clinics serving over 70 million Americans annually [2]. Below are just a few successes picked from their many clients and partners [6]:



Their streak of innovation has continued. They have expanded their smart warehousing capabilities, and integrated clinical data repositories information exchanges to create a Data Operating System (DOS) [7]. This new tool will facilitate faster software application development and more intelligent applications that can be better tailored to physician and patient specifications. This contributes to the creation of more personalized medicine (commonly called “precision medicine”).



With this new DOS, Health Catalyst has been able to develop ever more advanced data-driven technologies. Just two months ago, they introduced Touchstone, a software that uses artificial intelligence to comb through endless amounts of data to identify precise benchmarking targets for performance measurement and improvement [8]. And last month, they were recognized with the 2018 Microsoft Health Innovation Award [9].


Health Catalyst believes that, “the future of healthcare will be centered around the broad and more effective use of data” [7]. I agree with them. It will be interesting to see how the industry continues to react.




  1. “WHAT’S NOW AND NEXT IN ANALYTICS, AI, AND AUTOMATION.” McKinsey Global Institute, McKinsey & Company, May 2017,
  2. “The Health Catalyst Approach.” Health Catalyst,
  3. Cutler, David M. The Quality Cure: How Focusing on Health Care Quality Can Save Your Life and Lower Spending Too. University of California Press, 2014.
  4. Sanders, Dale. “How to Choose the Best Clinical Analytics Vendor: A Checklist.” Health Catalyst, 24 Oct. 2017,
  5. “Late-Binding Data Warehouse.” Health Catalyst,
  6. “Insights — Key Healthcare Thought Leadership Blogs and Articles.” Health Catalyst,
  7. “$200M Later: Health Catalyst Changes the Digital Trajectory of Healthcare with the Data Operating System (DOS).” PR Newswire: News Distribution, Targeting and Monitoring, 5 Sept. 2017,
  8. “Introducing Health Catalyst Touchstone: The Next-Generation AI-Powered Healthcare Benchmarking and Performance Improvement Solution.” PR Newswire: News Distribution, Targeting and Monitoring, 27 Feb. 2018,
  9. Sakalosky, Chris, et al. “Winners of the 2018 Microsoft Health Innovation Awards.” Microsoft Enterprise – English (En-Us), Microsoft Enterprise – English (En-Us), 7 Mar. 2018,


Houston Rockets and “Moreyball”

Leave a comment