Interview with Health Catalyst Senior Vice President Value Architect Leslie Falk

Posted in Feature Articles

On June 15, 2022, Health Catalyst achieved a milestone as the total number of published customer case studies reached 300. Upon publishing the 300th case study, Health Catalyst recorded a total of $1.5 billion in validated measurable improvements.

In addition to this quantified economic value, the achievement highlights other measurable improvements, such as the number of lives positively impacted by the work (5.4 million) and the number of care gaps closed (2.9 million).

Instrumental to the quantification and documentation of how Health Catalyst and its customers are driving massive, measurable healthcare improvements is the company’s Value Architect Team.

We sat down with Health Catalyst Senior Vice President Value Architect, Leslie Falk, to learn more about her team’s work and the significance of the company’s recent accomplishment.

What is Value Architecture?

Value Architecture at Health Catalyst centers around the goal of quantifying value and ensuring that Health Catalyst delivers on our mission of being a catalyst for massive, measurable improvement. 

At Health Catalyst, we have a unique and world-class Value Architect engine that no other organization has.

Health Catalyst’s operational excellence engine is made up of key components such as solutioning, staffing, client onboarding, project management, and measurable improvement.

Health Catalyst develops a solution tailored to meet client objectives, creates a detailed implementation timeline, and outlines resource needs. Core team resources are assigned, and subject matter experts and improvement specialists are engaged. Health Catalyst offers flexible US and global staffing models.

Our client onboarding component identifies the most important delivery priorities, provides a detailed onboarding process that includes checks and metrics, and offers weekly delivery tracking and monitoring.

Health Catalyst identifies the targeted improvements through SMART Goals, establishes baselines and measures actual results achieved. The dedicated Value Architect team helps identify the highest opportunities upfront, validates and quantifies the improvements, and helps organizations communicate their improvements internally and externally, including the development of case studies.

Tell us about your team.

Our Value Architect team has three primary functions that interrelate with one another.

These functions consist of financial value analysis, led by Scott Wyckoff; measurable improvements, led by Heather Schoonover; and program management, led by Arynn Oyler.

Scott leads out on opportunity analysis (OA) for prospects and clients, working with OA Center of Excellence partners across our business units. The team continually builds and tests additional tools to facilitate quick opportunity analysis based on our experience with existing clients. He also assists Heather and her team with economic valuation and measurable improvement analytics.

Heather’s team (Carla Brim, Melissa Selzler, and Gary Darley) partners with the ProServices teams to develop SMART Goals and Value Achievement plans for client projects; tracks, validates, and communicates measurable improvements; develops case studies; and works with the Health Catalyst communication and marketing teams to leverage case studies in sales and external activities, such as public relations and events.

Arynn leads the development of internal and external case study materials for clients, publishes case studies, and, with the entire Value Architect team, partners with the Health Catalyst Communications team to develop the Healthcare Analytics Summit (HAS) nomination process. The Value Architect team reviews and selects the nominations for HAS breakouts and showcases, including custom invitations and declination cohorts and invitation and showcase display copy. 

Arynn leads the presentation manager, session, and speaker training and helps lead HAS retrospectives with presenters and hosts. The Value Architect team plays speaker and session host roles—along with other Health Catalyst partners. And, in partnership with Chantal Augusto and the Content team—develop the breakout presentations.

What value does your team bring to Health Catalyst customers?

From the very beginning of our relationship with a client, our focus is not on installing the technology, but what the value our clients can receive.

The Value Architect works with our clients to help prioritize their highest opportunities, validate and quantify their results, and communicate the value internally and externally.

Our team helps clients communicate the measurable value they are delivering to their organization and to those they serve internally (resource funding and team recognition) and externally to promote their organization.

In addition to this, our team just launched our Improvement Readiness Assessment (IRA).

Despite many improvement initiatives, research finds that organizations find it difficult to achieve and sustain improvements. The IRA is designed to help individuals and organizations assess (and reassess on an ongoing basis) how ready they are to drive improvements at scale. The assessment content was developed using a modified Delphi nominal group methodology. A panel of 11 subject matter experts—including internal clients, external industry analysts, and external prospects—consisting of analytics, clinical, operations, and C-level experts evaluated the content validity.

The IRA assesses 22 competencies across five areas: leadership, culture, and governance; analytics; best practice; adoption; and financial alignment.

What is the significance of the 300th case study?

This 300th published case study represents a total of $1.5 billion in validated measurable improvements, 5.4 million lives positively impacted, and 2.9 million care gaps closed.

In 2013, we began tracking all measurable improvements and documenting our progress in case studies. From the very beginning this process was always designed to validate, quantify, and communicate results versus focusing on a marketing exercise.

When we began publishing case studies, we didn’t look at it like it was a marketing tool. We’re looked at developing these case studies from an improvement science perspective. That said, you need to have realized results and validate those results.

Through the engine we built, and working with our professional services colleagues, we analyze opportunities and identify them, ensure SMART goals in place, measure performance, validate, quantify improvements, and publish results.

What advice do you have for healthcare organizations who are considering implementing or expanding the use of data analytics to improve health outcomes?

Healthcare data is complex – everyone has a lot of data but being able to bring it together in a cohesive way that is integrated is essential. Integrating data in a way where you can understand what the outcomes are, what your current baseline is and what your results are, how the results impact your financial performance, your clinical outcomes and quality, how that all relates to each other, and how to identify actionable opportunities is imperative to making improvements.

Integrated data along with our accelerators and other tools help identify where there is true opportunity and how you go about achieving those improvements.

Health Catalyst has an established process for being successful in driving improvements. We identify the baseline and then offer an action plan. There are SMART goals that we’re going to implement and steps we will take to achieve the projected value, track that value, and continue to make improvements.

Some organizations and technology vendors, think about how they can come in and sell technology. That’s not what Health Catalyst thinks about. What Health Catalyst thinks about is how can our organization help you drive the massive, measurable improvements that you need to have to fulfill your mission and to meet your strategic objectives.

What are some of the measurable improvements you’ve seen health systems achieve along this journey that have resonated the most with you?

One case of standout improvement would be The University of Kansas Health System (UKHS). The health system recognized it could improve performance efforts across its entire organization by leveraging data and analytics and an adaptive problem-solving approach to drive improvement.

Recorded in late 2021, UKHS embarked on developing and applying an adaptive approach to problem-solving and developing a strategic performance improvement system. The organization applied a problem-solving approach that ensured it identified key stakeholders, involving them early and often.

 The UKHS defined success at the outset of problem-solving operations, leveraging data from the Health Catalyst® Data Operating System (DOS™) platform and a robust suite of analytics applications to understand, assist with, and evaluate improvement opportunities.

The UKHS links problems and possible solutions to the broader organizational vision and targets, leveraging its data and improvement resources to develop a clear and consistent understanding of the desired target performance from all stakeholders.

Improvement work is aligned across the organization, and clinicians are actively engaged in improvement efforts.

The UKHS’s adaptive approach to problem-solving led to all 21 clinical departments having annual growth and improvement plans in place, and the organization generated $4.7 million in cost savings. In addition, the organization saw the following results:

  • A 3.9-percent relative reduction in readmission rates over 12 months.
  • 0.69 On Examination (O/E) mortality rate for patients admitted to the hospital.
  • 20-point increase in access to care.
  • 11-point increase in overall rating of provider.
  • 10-point increase in physician communication quality.
  • In just one year, the zero harm initiatives improved care while reducing harm and costs.
  • $1.8 million in cost savings, the results of a:
    • 0.63 Standard Infection Ration (SIR) for catheter-associated bloodstream infections.
    • 0.83 SIR for hospital-onset Clostridioides difficile.
    • 0.96 SIR for catheter-associated urinary tract infections.
    • $600,000 in savings from five value-based improvement pilot projects in one year.

Other clients that have achieved notable improvements include Allina Health, Community Health Network, Carle Health, MemorialCare, and Texas Children’s Hospital.

Health Catalyst Powers $1.5 Billion in Validated Measurable Improvements

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