Startup Insider: 4 questions with Hospital IQ CEO Rich Krueger on operations management

Hospital leaders are inundated with a variety of data from EHR, revenue cycle and patient feedback systems. Now beyond simply collecting data from disparate sources, knowing how to leverage these diverse datasets for actionable insights poses a new challenge.

Hospital IQ has proposed one solution: using data to mimic a hospital's daily operations. Since 2013, the Newton, Mass.-based health IT startup has provided hospitals and health systems with a data analytics platform that simulates the best way to align resources — such as on-duty staff, operating rooms and inpatient beds — with predicted patient flow to eliminate waste and streamline patient care.

"Our platform synthesizes a tremendous amount of internal data from EHR, bed management, emergency department, scheduling, surgical and financial systems, as well as external sources to get a holistic understanding of the entire hospital or health system operation and its interdependencies," explains Rich Krueger, founder and CEO of Hospital IQ. Hospitals can then use these simulations to allocate resources like staff and beds more efficiently. 

Mr. Krueger spoke with Becker's Hospital Review about how data insights can give hospital leaders a "bird's-eye view" into day-to-day operations.

Editor's note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Question: What prompted you to found Hospital IQ?

Rich Krueger: I was looking for an opportunity to use technology to solve a problem that would help people. I was familiar with the problems facing the healthcare industry, and it didn't take long for me to see the operations management tools available to hospitals and health systems were extremely limited. My background is in operations, so I knew high-performance operations would be the lynchpin to enhancing quality, lowering costs and improving access to care. With upward of $250 billion in waste in healthcare on an annual basis in the U.S., we saw an opportunity to provide a software platform that incorporates operations science, math and simulation to produce actionable and prescriptive insights and recommendations that would take waste out of the healthcare system.

Q: What challenges do hospitals face with operations management?

RK: Hospitals don't have a holistic view of what's occurring operationally. In fact, too many critical operations decisions are made based on guesswork or anecdotal evidence gained from walking the floor or from past experience, and this information is often viewed in a vacuum. Without a holistic, bird's-eye view of operating room, emergency department and inpatient operations, a hospital can't understand how a change in one critical area will impact another. They are unable to anticipate and proactively course correct to prevent unnecessary stress or crisis. This ultimately has a negative effect on throughput, costs and quality.

Q: What advice do you have for other health IT companies focused on data analytics?

RK: The right analytics solutions must be easy to deploy and use, integrate with existing systems without a lot of IT lift, provide full data transparency and, to the extent possible, offer accurate, prescriptive insights and recommendations. Hospitals and their staff are drowning in data, while administrators and clinicians are caught up in the day-to-day activities of running their organizations and caring for patients. Hospitals also face increasing cost constraints that prevent them from hiring massive data teams. So our role isn't to offer another system that adds to the technology exhaustion, but to enable hospitals to use the data they already have to make real, meaningful change that will improve operational margins and patient experience.

Q: How would you characterize your company culture, and how do you foster this, as a startup?

RK: Our company culture is transparent, trusting, challenging, independent, inclusive and respectful. We strongly believe we're helping solve a critical problem facing society. That is exciting on a professional level, as well as rewarding on a personal level. We have all had experiences with the healthcare system, and it's inevitable we will continue to experience healthcare in one form or another throughout our lives. Fixing healthcare is everyone's problem. The Hospital IQ environment is one where we relish the challenge of operations management. Our employees are inspired and passionate about this mission. We don't put constraints on people. We encourage independence and inclusiveness so everyone has a tremendous amount of input on our product and support services.

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