Investment Blog - Bob Cash

The Role of HIT Investment in Solving the Big Problems

Living in Utah has its perks. For example, when autumn hits, the mountains explode in vibrant fall colors. Working for KLAS also has its perks. For example, when the mountains explode in color, we find that it is sometimes best to conduct our business remotely. This is how I found myself alongside some of healthcare’s leading IT and investing folks in Park City, surrounded by the color-changing leaves.

As this was a first-of-its-kind event for KLAS, I was a bit nervous, worrying about how it would turn out. Without much prior focus on the investment community, the Investment Symposium could have been a fish-out-of-water experience. Thankfully, in large part due to our investment team (Chris Chandler and Ben Brown), it was a terrific experience. I enjoyed watching all of the interactions between providers, vendors, and investors. Those in attendance came together not only to discuss the big challenges facing healthcare IT, but to suggest the best solutions to navigate those issues as well.

One of the most interesting conversations I took part in centered around smaller vendors feeling blocked by EHR vendors.  During a discussion about challenges facing young and/or developing healthcare IT companies, several people shared the need for stronger interoperability between healthcare applications and stated that efforts to connect through EHRs often met stiff resistance and economic barriers. One mentioned having paid a six-figure price for the so-called privilege of sharing data between their solution and that of a major EHR vendor. Solutions considered were felt to be more regulatory than conciliatory, although no real specific solution was forthcoming from the group.

While I don’t think this problem is unique to healthcare, I do believe that this sort of siloed thinking will eventually need to change as the march of technology-enabled care moves forward. While nobody is asking every vendor to give up their entire playbook, the industry will eventually require that disparate vendors learn to play ball with one another to a greater degree than we see today.

Usually when KLAS hosts an event, we focus on a single topic—for example, our recent summit on population health, or the enterprise imaging conference we convened earlier this year. The investment symposium instead focused on connected themes, centered around the idea of “tackling the big challenges” in HIT.   These investor discussions covered everything from population health and data aggregation to cost of care and RCS to usability and interoperability. 

While diving deep into a subject is helpful for solving big problems, I really enjoyed this buffet-style approach that allowed attendees to gain insights on a little bit of everything. I think this method served the investment community best, as they had no loyalty to any one particular market segment within HIT, but instead had a desire to learn about, and consider investing in, any of the industry’s budding markets.

Ultimately, our hope is to help guide the investment community—through the use of honest, accurate data—to the investments that will better meet the needs of providers and patients and, in so doing, yield good returns for investors and provide capital to emerging vendors with tools that will help move healthcare forward.