A CEO Thriving In Healthcare’s Data Driven World

Keith Dunleavy, CEO of Inovalon
Keith Dunleavy, CEO of Inovalon

How does one go from Harvard Medical School and an internal medicine residency at the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital to the corner office?

For Keith Dunleavy, MD, CEO of Inovalon, a company in Bowie, Md that produces a cloud-based data analytics platform for healthcare companies, the exam room was simply no match for his pursuits in business. Dunleavy always thought he’d combine his background in engineering (and an undergrad electrical engineering degree from Dartmouth College) and his background in medicine. He also recognized the healthcare industry had a lot of catching up to do when it came to technology.

“When I got to residency, I was rather amazed at how little computer science and technology was being used in the healthcare world. Not MRI machines and ultrasound machines, but leveraging data on [treatments] to benefit of the patient,” he says.

That’s where Inovalon came into the picture. Dunleavy arrived at the company in 1998, helping organize predecessor organizations into one company. Since then, they have ridden the wave of healthcare digitization thanks in large part to federal healthcare reform.

In the early days, the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 geared up the ability for companies like his to access data from health plans and physicians in hospitals. Later in the decade, additional Medicaid and Medicare legislation incentivized data-driven payment models, which made even more information available for Inovalon to parse. By the time the Affordable Care Act came into the picture, the private sector was driving the industry’s demand for data and regulatory world has taken a backseat, Dunleavy says.


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The data demand has driven the company’s growth (doubled revenue over the course of a 5-year period) and helped it go public in 2015, says Dunleavy, without ever relying on private equity financing. More than that is just the sheer data its compiled into its system. The company claims it has run analytics on 941,000 physicians, 483,000 clinical facilities, 243 million Americans, and 38 billion medical events.

Dunleavy talked with Chief Executive about the increasing ubiquity of data in healthcare, how the company’s technology works, challenges he faces in healthcare and more. Below are excerpts from this conversation.

You work with all of the major players in the insurance world and a lot of the major players in the pharma world. But most people wouldn’t know that your technology runs their data and you have the analytics on their data. How does your technology in the background of all these companies, whether they’re an insurance company, a pharma company, or something else?

Well, a lot of it has to do with connectivity, right? We mostly started with health plans. They, initially, would provide the data to us, so that we could run various different analytics on their data over a longer period of time. With the progression of technology and with connectivity, the timeline of running those analytics has shrunk and the nature of the connectivity is done increasingly in real time. Real-time into the health plan administrative systems, real-time connectivity into electronic healthcare records systems, into health information exchanges, into laboratory systems, and so forth.

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