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Arif Nathoo Talks With Vital Signs About the Future of Healthcare Data: Top 3 Takeaways

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Komodo Health Co-Founder and CEO Arif Nathoo recently sat down with Jacob Effron on the Vital Signs podcast to discuss the future of healthcare data and the evolution of Komodo’s SaaS platform

We talk a lot at Komodo HealthTM about our mission of using data, analytics, and technology to reduce the burden of disease, but we don’t always explain why we’ve chosen this path and how we got here. With a team of over 800 Dragons bringing diverse expertise from across healthcare, from M.D.s, researchers, and medical affairs to HEOR specialists, software developers, and data scientists, we could have channeled our energies in countless directions. Why focus on data and software?

Komodo Health Co-founder and CEO Arif Nathoo helps answer that question over the course of a sweeping interview with Vital Signs’ Jacob Effron, where he covers everything from the Komodo origin story to our outlook on the future of healthcare. Along the way, Arif also helps articulate why so many of us are so excited about the prospect of truly revolutionizing healthcare by building a better data backbone.

Here are the top three takeaways from Arif’s interview:

1. Data is the foundation for healthcare transformation.


The conversation starts with Arif’s unpopular (at the time) decision after medical school to forgo a residency and focus instead on the business of healthcare by becoming a consultant. It was there, digging deep into the inner workings of the healthcare system, that he quickly found the structural inefficiencies that would give birth to Komodo.

“I was amazed by this tension that exists between insurers, providers, and big pharma companies who are all fighting for a different piece of the pie, and at the center you have the patient, who is at the behest of all these massive enterprises trying to grab the healthcare dollar,” Arif explains. “That’s a massive disservice to patients.”

Arif quickly hones in on the issue of fragmentation in healthcare, recognizing technology’s potential for stitching together patient journeys to better understand what’s happening to patients and what key variables are driving better and worse outcomes. 

“We saw an opportunity to revolutionize the claim,” Arif says. “For 40+ years in healthcare, we’ve used EDI claims data as the foundation for healthcare research, but then lab results were coming into play, along with EHR data—data from patient surveys and data collected from wearables and devices. It was clear there was going to be a proliferation of new data sources, and those needed to be brought against some kind of back end—a new data backbone—that could allow you to do studies at scale.”

2. Not all data was created equal.

Arif is quick to point out, however, that building a powerful data backbone involves a lot more than just aggregating more data than anyone else. 

“There has been a misconception in the industry that more data is better,” he says. “This has been one of the big problems in healthcare. You can get a massive amount of data, but then you have no idea what to do with it. Clients will go out and license data from a legacy aggregator, hire a bunch of analysts, realize their analysts can’t do anything with it, and then spend a bunch of money on consultants. 

“We quickly realized that it was critical to have a robust and accurate database, but the real value of that database was not in reselling data, but in building software experiences or applications that customers can use for multiple different use cases.”

Arif also stresses the importance of accuracy, noting that the legacy data aggregator space was littered with imprecise datasets. “I would look at a legacy claims database and see records for 650 million patients. How many people are in this country, maybe 330 million? So, how can you have nearly double that in a database? It’s because the data captured in most healthcare systems is garbage. One of the key services we needed to provide was to create a great de-identified patient master that could serve as the foundation for our platform.”

3. Patient-consented data represents the future of healthcare.

Arif and Jacob also discuss where they see the future of healthcare going over the next several years, noting that a quiet revolution is starting to emerge in the area of patient-consented data. In Arif’s view, this nascent field, where patients are able to take greater control over the use of their own personally identifiable healthcare data, could reshape the future of healthcare. Arif further explains how Komodo is already integrating patient-consented data into its platform and seeing rapid uptake in the rare disease and oncology spaces, where patients are highly motivated and seizing the opportunity to use their data as a strategic tool in their fights against disease.

“We’ve created this incredible opportunity for patients to take custody of their own data, to bring all of it together for their own benefit, and to choose what to contribute for research,” Arif says. “That path is continuing to grow in really awesome and exciting ways, and I think, over time, we’ll see more and more patients getting involved with that process. That information is already making its way into our products and services so we can bridge between de-identified and patient-consented data in a way that really benefits patients in the long run.”

Listen to the full Vital Signs podcast here.

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