Data analytics is one of the toughest undertakings in recent memory for the healthcare industry. Providers who have barely come to grips with putting data into their electronic health records (EHR) are now being asked to pull actionable insights out of them.
For healthcare organizations that successfully integrate data-driven insights into their clinical and operational processes, the rewards can be huge. Healthier patients, lower care costs, more visibility into performance, and higher staff and consumer satisfaction rates are among the many benefits of turning data assets into data insights. The road to meaningful healthcare analytics is a rocky one, however, filled with challenges and problems to solve.
Founded in the year 1990, DRG scrutinized the hardship of data analytics in healthcare industry and converted it from being impossible to possible. The Decision Resources Companies are now DRG. The company offers best-in-class data, analytics, and insights products and services to the healthcare industry, delivered by more than 1300 employees across 18 global locations. DRG provides services to the pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, financial services, and payer industries with the tools, insights, and advice they need to compete and thrive in an increasingly complex and value-based marketplace. DRG helps its clients by providing insights that enable them to bring new life-saving and enabling drugs, devices, and procedures to patients around the world. The company provides partners guidance in developing drugs, bringing new products to market, and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare systems.
Initially, the firm’s journey was a roller-coaster; adding a layer of data, technology, and data science to a twenty-year-old market research firm was no easy feat. It required vision, hard work, and commitment. The company began acquiring several innovative analytics businesses which had limited market reach but great technology. DRG found myriad small and hidden analytics teams, and then integrated them into a single operating group – DRG Analytics. Since the creation of DRG Analytics in 2014, the business size doubled three years in a row and has maintained the consistent growth since then.
Key success factors
Clients: DRG has worked for and partnered with the largest and most innovative players in the healthcare industry for two decades. The company has earned its clients’ trust by providing them with high value-added insights. In turn the clients have asked DRG to stretch in new and innovative ways, to provide them with new insights in the fast-changing and high-stakes world of healthcare.
Data: Because, in many cases, DRG started with a blank sheet of paper and has been able to create a set of data assets that are not hobbled by legacy systems. It believes that its ability to differentiate itself here comes not from the data assets themselves, but rather from its ability to connect these assets together to enable it to answer difficult questions for clients.
People: DRG employees have deep domain knowledge regarding the drug, device, and hospital industry. By providing these domain experts with a trove of real-world-evidence and best in class analytic tools, the company has created a truly unique platform in the healthcare insights industry.
Culture: We admit that this may seem like another way of saying “our people”. Yes, our people are extraordinarily competent. They are bright, well-educated and highly skilled. They are also collaborative, responsive and fun. This sounds kind of corny, says the CEO, but it is a privilege to work with DRG people every day.
It is difficult to start a venture. But far more difficult to maintain it' - How would you and your team interpret this saying?
I’m not sure I’d agree with this saying. Starting new things is difficult… and so is evolving them. Maintaining a business feels like staying in one place. In today’s world, if you are merely maintaining, you will get passed by. A mentor of mine once told me, “If you’re going to surf, surf a big wave.” Our business sits at the intersection of two major waves of disruption: the rise of big data Artificial Intelligence and the variety of forces that are transforming healthcare. We have been reinventing our surf board while surfing these big waves, and it is a fantastic ride. But maintenance has nothing to do with it. Like a surfer, if we were standing still, “maintaining” ourselves, we would be swamped. Instead, we are evolving and pivoting, and helping our clients do the same, as we all surf these big and fast-moving waves.
What was your first project? How successful was it?
Not as successful as I would have liked! We had been a collection of discrete businesses. We learned that coming together as one company was about much more than the org chart. Our initial efforts were disjointed and sometimes confusing. We have worked hard to fix this by creating stronger linkages between different competencies across the company, celebrating shared wins and moving people into different business units to drive “cross-pollination.” We have made a lot of progress here, and we still have more to do.
What is the importance of two-way communication, and how do you deal with it in your company?
Communication is a challenge in a global company with 1,300 employees. It’s also vitally important. DRG people tell me they want more communication from me, and I certainly want to hear more from them. We’re investing more in internal communications, and my senior managers and I are working hard to have more direct interactions with DRG people across the business.
Man behind the success
Jon Sandler is a Founding Managing Director of IndUS Growth Partners and a member of Piramal Enterprises Ltd’s Senior Management Team. Prior to founding IndUS Growth Partners, Sandler was the Vice Chairman of The Kessler Group, a Boston-based firm providing creative marketing, investment banking, and principal investing solutions to the global credit card industry.
Sandler began his career as an investment banker at Bankers Trust Company in New York and then as a consultant with the MAC Group in Cambridge. He holds both a BA and an MBA from Harvard University. He is a Trustee of Combined Jewish Philanthropies and the Rashi School in Dedham, MA.
“We offer best-in-class data, analytics, and insights products and services to the healthcare industry.”