Profiling Agilum’s experts: Brian Wedderspoon
Brian Wedderspoon, Vice President, Analytics
Agilum puts objective, real-world data to work to help hospitals, life science companies and payers administer better patient-centered and cost-effective care. As a healthcare business intelligence company, Agilum distinguishes itself by offering clients financial and pharmacy analytics that include control group comparisons detailing how disease and data move through populations. Clients can use Agilum’s information in meaningful ways to analyze populations, identify risks and develop interventions from a public health perspective.
Today we’re highlighting Agilum’s team and their passion for helping clients with Brian Wedderspoon, who has integrated his experience in healthcare consulting, IT and analytics into his role as VP of Analytics Services at Agilum.
Tell me about your career path and how you ended up in health IT.
It’s been a bit of a winding one. I started in healthcare consulting on the revenue cycle side, doing business transformation and process improvement work for both large and small hospitals, totally transforming their revenue cycle operations. After about six years, I went to business school in DC and then into public sector consulting with the federal government, where I helped devise and implement strategic plans within military health.
After that, my wife and I moved back home to Madison, WI, where she had accepted a position as an emergency medicine physician with a large, independent medical group. Soon after, I was hired by the group to be its first business manager. There, I redefined and realigned various leadership roles to better support the group’s business model and rapid growth, as well as instituted a range of measures and controls to improve transparency, strengthen relationships with clients and vendors, and, hopefully, make the lives of its physician-owners and employees a little easier.
Somewhat haphazardly, I was introduced to a local entrepreneur — an expert in healthcare data analytics, and specifically, population health. I had never worked in a startup, nor had I worked in healthcare data and IT, so the challenge of learning something new drew me in. I stayed there for a few years before being recruited over to Agilum by a former colleague.
What excites you about healthcare?
It is an industry unlike any other — highly complex with a confluence of opposing forces that present some unique challenges and opportunities. Surging demands to lower costs and improve outcomes have forced this great reconciliation between the business and clinical sides of healthcare. It’s an ongoing process full of friction and struggle. But the aim is good, and when that process becomes increasingly informed by good information, better decisions follow. And better decisions mean better results.
It’s this problem-solving process that excites me. I’m adept at navigating between the clinical and business sides of healthcare, understanding the various perspectives, translating where necessary and bringing insights and strategy to bear on nagging problems. And I believe good data generating actionable insights is going to be the fuel that makes this whole transformation in healthcare work.
Let’s talk about your role at Agilum and what your day-to-day looks like.
My day-to-day right now is helping build the products and frame the analytic projects we want to pursue, in order to solve problems using data. This involves a lot of upfront investment in the process to scope out business objectives and clearly articulate the underlying questions we want the data to answer. If you ask the wrong question of the data, you will get the wrong answer and waste a lot of time in the process. I spend a lot of time scaling between the “forest” level and the “trees” level, ensuring our overall solutions meet market needs and we have the right resources to address anticipated demands, while also getting into the details of individual projects — which data, for what purposes, engineered in a certain matter, to produce a certain output and communicated in a certain manner, etc. I find that aspect of the job rewarding and fun.
What do you think Agilum does differently?
First and foremost, our data is unique in many ways. We can see all drug dispensation activity within a hospital, both inpatient and outpatient. For healthcare data, the go-to source usually is the medical claim. But most of the medication activity is bundled into a DRG and therefore not apparent on a medical claim. The granular information around how much drug was dispensed and what types and when—all of that is unknown if you look at a claim exclusively. We can then surround the detailed drug dispensation data with claims, ADT and other data to get a comprehensive picture of what happened during the encounter. And we have this information on millions of patients, many more millions of encounters, and over many years — the depth and breadth of our overall data asset is immense.
We are also highly nimble in the way we look at data. We’ve built flexible products that allow users to explore data in highly intuitive ways. And we’ve built a multidisciplinary team capable of efficiently and reliably delivering value according to established methodologies, or, alternatively, partnering with clients to pursue “bespoke” analytics that have specific objectives, parameters, constraints and data needs. The team does not shy away from new challenges.
What do you think that hospital leaders might not know or think about when it comes to financial and pharmacy analytics?
I believe hospital leaders are warming to this notion of using real-world data (RWD) to improve financial and clinical outcomes at their facilities. Until recently, RWD has largely been absent in the decision-making and performance-improvement processes because it was difficult to obtain and even harder to use. RWD, including that offered by Agilum, is being used to isolate patient populations and understand differences in medication therapies, treatment protocols, costs of care and outcomes. This in turn allows hospital leaders to identify where they are under- or over-performing against benchmark data and determine where resources can be used more effectively to lower costs and improve care.
The key is in finding good RWD — data sets large enough to adequately represent the populations of interest and of high-quality to draw meaningful observations that drive action. Agilum has the data and the analytical horsepower to deliver the insights that drive that change.