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Population Builder

Product Overview

The Population Builder application enables users to dynamically author, manage, view, and publish pre-built and custom population ruleset* definitions using an elegant drag-and-drop interface. A ruleset can be published as a registry* and augmented with summary metrics using the Health Catalyst tools. These registries can be used for internal quality improvement and research efforts or for reporting to external organizational registries.

Population Builder comes with a library of predefined regulatory and professional society content structured as valuesets* and rulesets, which can be used as building blocks for user-generated content. In addition to predefined content, Health Catalyst’s Professional Services team can work with you to add custom content from existing applications.

*Registry: A patient population that is curated based on shared health characteristics, visit dates, etc., then tracked and managed with the associated details needed to manage the population (e.g., the Diabetes Patient Registry).

Ruleset: A set of rules that filter data records into a population based on shared characteristics (e.g., a ruleset for diabetes patients with poor glycemic control might include: diagnosis code for diabetes mellitus and 2+ A1c tests >=6.7 and 1+ emergency encounters after diagnosis date).

Valueset: A defined subset of terminology codes (e.g., 249.0, 250.0 Diabetes Valueset).


  • Web-based interface: The user-friendly, browser-based Population Builder enables you to create and customize registries.
  • Predefined content: Integrated predefined content from national organizations like CMS speeds time to registry definition.
  • Deeper analytics: Registries built in an analytic environment can use more data sources and better algorithms. In addition, the Population Builder framework supports predictive analytics and machine learning.
  • Integration and standardization: Registries are reusable across the Health Catalyst Data Operating System and Health Catalyst applications, resulting in standardized population definition creation across the Health Catalyst platform.

Data Sources

  • EMR Clinical
  • Claims data
  • Any SQL Server data source

Population Builder - A Deeper View


Data warehousing has fueled tremendous growth in data-driven population health improvement. Clinical improvement efforts use analytic applications focused on a variety of populations, including patients with chronic diseases and acute conditions, high-risk patients, and healthy populations.

Currently, as organizations seek to accelerate the pace of data-driven improvements for populations, they are often dependent on SQL developers or other data engineers to create the population definitions at the center of these applications. Clinicians are often unclear or confused by the population definitions, and they’re frustrated by the need to to work through a developer to get the rules “just right.”

In the world of population health, the agility and ease with which a population can be defined and distributed across an organization is paramount. As analytics become more and more prescriptive, it is critical to enable clinicians to author and manage the definitions of the population for intervention. Moreover, the output of their work cannot remain “locked” in a single analytic application—clinicians need the flexibility to adjust populations as clinical definitions and population needs change over time.


  • Quality improvement leadership
  • Care management leadership
  • Clinical analysts
  • Researchers
  • Application developers

Use Cases

  • quality improvement leadership team needs to define and identify high-risk cohorts needing targeted intervention in the coming year—potential opioid abusers and patients with severe persistent mental illness. The team works through defining these populations based on multiple regulatory and operational criteria.
  • clinical analyst needs to fulfill a request for high-level patient counts for an emerging program under consideration by a clinical department. Using predefined content, she quickly shares a preliminary result and then refines the result in collaboration with a clinician from the clinical program.
  • researcher has identified a new grant opportunity that requires a specific enrollment threshold to qualify. Using non-PHI role within Population Builder, the researcher can quickly determine if they have the minimum amount of eligible patients to apply for the grant.
  • care management coordinator needs to reach out to a specific sub-population of high-risk patients to alert them to take particular action. He defines and sends the appropriate population definition to the Care Management application for follow-up.
  • An application developer reuses the population definitions found in one Health Catalyst application in an emerging solution, simplifying installation and maintenance tasks.

Opportunity Insights

  • Increase the number of discovered populations that meet defined criteria to initiate interventions
  • Provide national population definitions for use throughout the organization
  • Govern uniform population definitions across the organization

Potential Improvements

  • Outcome improvements
    • Increase clinical user engagement
    • Increase participation in research initiatives
    • Speed time to value for content management efforts
  • Process improvements:
    • Decrease population definition creation time by providing predefined national content from CMS
    • Decrease technical and clinical knowledge barriers by converting clinical knowledge into executable logic
    • Increase population definition accuracy and granularity
    • Increase the number of reusable populations (e.g., that can be used across multiple applications)
    • Increase customization of population definitions across the organization