Uncharted Territory: The Birth of the Healthcare Analytics Summit

Article Summary

Technology continues to transform healthcare, with data and analytics playing a crucial role in improving clinical, financial, and operational outcomes. Health Catalyst, with CEO Dan Burton at the helm, recognized the potential impact of data and analytics early on. Assembling a small team to educate clients and seeking to expand its reach, the company launched its first Healthcare Analytics Summit (HAS) in 2014. The conference has become a significant event in the industry, fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing among health system leaders and marking a pivotal moment for Health Catalyst and the healthcare sector.


A decade of HAS history
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In 2008, the healthcare industry underwent a seismic shift with the emergence of new digital technologies, marking the beginning of an era defined by data-driven decision-making and technological innovation. This transformation ushered in a new wave of possibilities for improving patient care and catalyzed the emergence of companies at the forefront of healthcare technology. Among these trailblazers was Health Catalyst, a rising star in the industry at a pivotal crossroads during this dynamic period.

As data and analytics gained prominence in shaping medical advancements and operational efficiencies, Health Catalyst’s journey mirrored the larger narrative of how technology revolutionized healthcare. Navigating this landscape, the company faced challenges and opportunities that would ultimately shape its trajectory as a pioneering force in harnessing data to drive meaningful change within the healthcare ecosystem.

With only ten clients under its belt in the early years, Health Catalyst CEO Dan Burton recognized the need to establish a strong marketing strategy to showcase the company’s capabilities and educate clients about the transformative power of data and analytics in health systems and hospital operations. Burton enlisted Paul Horstmeier to spearhead an initiative to position Health Catalyst as a leading voice in the industry, enhancing the organization’s visibility and prominence.

Horstmeier devised a plan to educate clients about enhancing data and analytics in healthcare. He convened a small team that launched a content marketing initiative to tap into the company’s expertise and began publishing online content regularly, which gained significant traction. They also started a webinar series featuring internal subject matter experts and leaders in live forums, initially drawing modest attendance but eventually surpassing expectations.

Recognizing the potential for a more significant impact, Horstmeier and the marketing team aimed to expand beyond their existing client base and establish themselves as industry influencers. Concurrently, the organization’s sales team proposed hosting a user conference, which initially raised concerns due to the modest customer base. However, drawing inspiration from successful marketing efforts, they focused on industry-wide outreach and education rather than solely promoting Health Catalyst.

Setting the Bar and Achieving Something Remarkable at the Healthcare Analytics Summit

Despite skepticism from some executive team members regarding the feasibility of hosting a large-scale conference with only 100 attendees, they remained determined to aim higher. With support from Burton and a vision for attracting 500 peers and prospects, the marketing team forged ahead with confidence and enthusiasm. Taking the user conference concept to market seemed like a bold move, causing uncertainty among Horstmeier and his team as they questioned whether they could pull it off. Undeterred, they began planning in February 2014 to launch that fall and meticulously reviewed the details daily.

“I knew we only had one shot at setting the bar, which would establish expectations for future events,” Horstmeier said in a pre-recorded interveiw. As an avid runner, he would contemplate conference details during daily runs, focusing on the finer points each day. He vividly remembers feeling anxious and nervous as they prepared to launch, carrying the weight of responsibility on his shoulders, knowing that if people said yes, his small, determined team would have to deliver on their promises. It was an intimidating task that he was committed to seeing through. As he laced up his running shoes daily, he mentally rehearsed every detail of the upcoming conference. The pressure was intense, but so was his dedication.

Uncharted Territory: The Birth of the Healthcare Analytics Summit - Health Catalyst

Reaffirming the Mission to Improve Healthcare Through Data and Analytics

The highly anticipated day finally arrived, bringing excitement as the attendees streamed in. The first-ever conference in 2014 drew 463 non-Health Catalyst participants and 200 Health Catalyst team members, totaling almost 700 people. According to Horstmeier, this event outperformed and set a new benchmark for what Health Catalyst could achieve.

Since its inception, the conference has transformed into a yearly event highlighting Health Catalyst’s finest work, including a broad portfolio of analytics use cases and bringing together leaders from the healthcare industry and other sectors as keynote speakers and facilitators. The team’s camaraderie and supporters’ enthusiasm have driven the summit’s expansion, motivating Health Catalyst to pursue further growth and innovation.

“With each conference, we reaffirm our commitment to improving patient care and advancing the field through data-driven solutions,” said Tarah Neujahr-Bryan, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Health Catalyst. “Our journey is far from over, but with each step forward, we are inspired by the progress we’ve made and eager to see what lies ahead.”

Fueling a Passion, Creating Innovative Healthcare Technology Solutions

As healthcare professionals, data scientists, and engineers, Health Catalyst team members have witnessed the struggles and challenges the healthcare industry continues to endure. “We know that every healthcare team member is committed to achieving its organization’s mission and delivering on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) six domains of healthcare quality: safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable,” said Dr. Leslie Hough Falk, Chief Client Success Officer at Health Catalyst. “We have seen firsthand the emotional toll healthcare professionals have when they can’t provide high-quality care due to systemic barriers or lack of access to crucial insights from data analysis.  Our experiences have fueled a passion for finding solutions to make a difference in people’s lives. This compels us to keep the Healthcare Analytics Summit going each year.”

A group of attendees at the Healthcare Analytics Summit gather for a photo in front of the conference venue: The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.

This groundbreaking conference represented a pivotal moment in the healthcare industry — and still does — offering a unique opportunity for collaboration and knowledge sharing among health system leaders. Indeed, the potential to harness data science and innovative applied technologies to drive significant patient care improvements is exciting and necessary in today’s rapidly evolving healthcare landscape.

Learn more about the power of data and analytics and its critical role in today’s delivery of value-based care through best practices and hands-on experience. Register today for the Healthcare Analytics Summit™️ 2024 (HAS®️) and be a part of the future of healthcare!

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