Dean Stephens is the CEO of Healthline, a media group and a health information technology company. Here Stephens discusses healthcare analytics and how it’s important to providers and patients; the ever-increasing importance of harvesting useable and life-changing information from unstructured big data; analytics in population health; the importance of ACOs and the future of Healthline.
Tell me about your background and your role at Healthline.
I grew up in a small, blue-collar town in New England and was fortunate enough to attend an Ivy League college, which was a rare thing for this town. After college and graduate school, I got lucky to land a policy analyst position for the Washington State governor, but in no time, got drafted into management consulting at Deloitte. Much of my consulting time was spent in the healthcare industry learning first-hand how “upside down” the industry was. Thus, I joined other entrepreneurs to re-imagine this muddled industry and joined Healthline as CEO in 2001, not knowing then that I would end up building two companies simultaneously.
What does Healthline do and how has the company evolved?
Healthline’s mission is to make the people of the world healthier through the power of information. And we do this through two business units – our media group, which consists of our consumer health website Healthline.com, and our health information technology group, which includes a range of search and data analytics solutions built on our market-leading medical taxonomy. We are currently working with some of healthcare’s largest brands, including AARP, Aetna, Pfizer, Sanofi, UnitedHealth Group, Microsoft, IBM, GE and Elsevier.
Describe your personal view of analytics and what that means to the rest of us. Why is this important?
Healthcare is the most information-intensive industry on the planet. The number of diseases recognized today and the permutations on the treatment matches to individuals have exploded over the past 20 years. It’s impossible for an individual physician or a large, sophisticated provider or payer institution to deliver effective treatment across all patients without analyzing vast amounts of complicated data. We limped along in the traditional fee-for-service realm. Now as the healthcare market shifts to value-based reimbursement, the value of information and analysis rises dramatically as providers shift from being rewarded for sick care to well care.