Tackling the realities of population health: Acupera
Better outcomes, preventing diseases, closing care gaps and creating cost savings for providers are all promises made by those who espouse the virtues of population health. Historically, however, these promises have not been met in many instances, causing some to believe that true population health management may still be just out of our current reach. Others, like Ron Razmi, Chief Executive Officer, Acupera, feel that it is not the practice itself, but the unrealistic, misguided approaches that many practitioners of population health employ that cause so many disappointing results.
(Editor's note: To hear audio excerpts of this interview, click on the media player buttons that run throughout this article.)
Free: Your approach to population health management is rooted in your professional background. Could you please describe your career path?
Razmi: I started my career in medicine as a cardiologist, but my background is that of a physicist that went to medical school.
One of the first things I did in my career was developing cardiovascular applications for MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) imaging. Historically, MRI or CAT (computed tomography) scans were not used in managing cardiac patients. A group of us worked on developing the initial applications of that and wrote a textbook in doing so. Through that [process], I got exposure also to the business side of things.
Using my background as a cardiologist, and as someone with an interest and expertise in technology, I switched to business development and worked in a corporate finance group at McKinsey for a good number of years focusing on life sciences and private equity buyouts.
Back in 2009, I saw the writing on the wall around digital health and decided to start Acupera. What I was seeing at that time was a lot of overly simplistic and unrealistic solutions that worked well in a technology lab, but when you brought them to the real world, there were a lot of barriers to adoption in the clinical environment. In particular, I noticed that a lot of the solutions didn't necessarily understand the workflow aspects of how healthcare is delivered.
Our goal early on was to to go beyond electronic health records (EHRs) and analytics, and to answer the question: How do you make the right things, specifically the right tasks, happen at the point of care? The point of care not necessarily being the doctor-patient interaction, but with the care team. We wanted to make sure that we went beyond considering just the doctor because today you must know how the entire care team collaborates in managing a patient or a population of patients.
With these things in mind, we built an engine that is intelligent, that automates a lot of work that most other solutions skip over in terms of the proper workflows needed for each member of a care team. Our system tells each member of the care team, including the patient, what they need to do. We don't know of any other solutions in population health that accomplishes this objective as well as we do.