Lumiata combines data science + medicine in the form of the world’s first medical graph, which seeks to mimic multi-dimensional human reasoning. The approach helps to identify, prioritize, and optimize resources for patient care, risk adjustment, reimbursement, personalized health, and strategic planning. Oliver Wyman Associate Terrance Wallace talked with Lumiata Founder/CEO Ash Damle and Chief Commercial Officer Dr. C. Anthony Jones to find out how they’re leveraging data science to make healthcare more personalized and scalable:
Terrance Wallace: Can you give us an overview of the Lumiata story?
Ash Damle: Our focus is on leveraging medical artificial intelligence (AI) to make health human. We are generating and capturing large volumes of data through a variety of channels: wearables, genetics, health record data, and others. What’s fascinating is that the data that’s used to provide care right now is not that different from what was used 10 to 20 years ago, but now we may have 100 times the amount. Our focus is on how do you take that data and put that to work for people on an individual level? How do you use that data in a way to make sure that each new person that receives care is not an entirely new experiment? How do you take data from millions of medical records and be able to predict what’s going on in each individual person? We facilitate truly personalized care at scale by leveraging data to enable automation that the industry desperately needs. If you boil it down, we try to answer the core questions: what to do for whom, when, and why?
Dr. Anthony Jones: When you think about the way medicine was practiced 50 years ago, we spent a lot of time with the doctor and they asked a lot of questions. They didn’t have all of the models, lab tools, and medical equipment we have today to gather the objective data. They had to spend a lot of time talking with you so they could diagnose and treat you. Now we’ve moved to an era where we have an abundance of information, but the doctor doesn’t have enough time or tools to utilize the information. You’ve got to look at how other industries have approached problems by applying AI. In medicine, we can use AI to put the most useful information in the hands of a practitioner so they can do better than we’ve done it in the past.
TW: Combining data science + medicine to improve healthcare is a complex issue to tackle. How did you actually get started?
AD: My background is as a data scientist from MIT. I also grew up in healthcare and that’s been a big part of my family for multiple generations. What I really saw was an extraordinary opportunity to bring data science and medicine together in a way that we just could not do before. I saw an opportunity to help millions of people live better lives every day. That was really the key for me: can we combine the data and computational capabilities that we now have to do something better and meaningful? Thankfully the answer is yes and we’re excited about where it’s going.
AJ: I’m a medical doctor by training, but I bypassed a residency and did a fellowship in medical informatics. I’ve always lived at the intersection of medicine and information and have been amazed and depressed by how far behind healthcare is in leveraging information to achieve better outcomes. There remains a huge opportunity here.
TW: So Lumiata is based in the Silicon Valley, a leading hub and startup ecosystem for high-tech innovation and development. How has that geographic location supported your development?
AD: Being based in the Bay Area certainly shapes our thinking. With the internet of things, though, what was once the exclusive reality of the Bay Area is now more pervasive throughout the world. This is really about innovation and taking risk. It’s about figuring out how to make the impossible – possible. Being in the Bay Area is largely about the people you have. Every entrepreneur has an idea, but in the end, it’s the people that are a part of the company that make it what it is and what it will be. So yes, being in the Bay Area has supported our development because it has shaped the people that are ultimately part of our team. We have people around the world, but I would say it’s that harkening spirit of innovation that’s most important. It’s been a pleasure for me working with our team, and I learn something new from them every day.
TW: What have been your most recent milestones?
AD: We’re starting to get access to really large amounts of data for 30-40-50 thousand patients. With that type of data we’re able to work on developing predictive capabilities that provide real value. We are also excited about working with larger and larger customers who span 10-20 different ACOs and have more patients. That enables us to actually leverage the medical AI to understand what’s going on. So we’re really excited about our data capabilities, our team, and the larger clients that we’re working with.
AJ: I would add a point about the primary asset that we have, our medical graph – the inference engine that drives the predictive analytics that we do. We’ve gone through a number of key milestones with that. When you first create something like this it’s almost like a child. As we keep feeding it more data and it makes a leap forward, it’s almost like seeing a child growing up. It’s always encouraging in an AI business to see the intelligence evolve. We just hit a fairly important milestone on that front and that’s very interesting.
AD: I would agree! At the end of the day, we are a medical AI company. There are three-four more core capabilities that we could use. Core to that is to be able to better predict a diagnosis within a given time frame across a large array of potential diagnoses.
TW: What type of projects or partnerships are you currently working on?
AD: We’ve been doing some great work with the folks at Independence Blue Cross, working to understand how we can really leverage predictive analytics and AI to more fully enable value-based care. We’re working with them and the team at Comcast to begin figuring out how we can take data from multiple data sources: claims, labs, wearables, and health records and synthesize that at the individual level in real time to identify opportunities to improve lives. We have a number of secondary projects that we’ll also be working on collectively.
AJ: From a partnership standpoint, what we’re looking for and who we tend to enjoy working with, are the companies that are not content with the way healthcare is done today. We have found an interesting cross-section of other start-ups and larger companies that have been around for a 100 years that are looking at their business and thinking that there has to be a better way to do this. We’re looking at the coalition of companies that are ready to take a hard look and make something happen; that’s driving our market strategy as much as anything. We’ve been fortunate to have some more established companies take an interest in our success because it has implications on how well they do. Those relationships are invaluable. For a couple of young companies to get together and want to change the world is great, but if you can get some of the more established companies with a huge market presence on board, you can drive change much more rapidly simply through the scale of their market presence.
TW: What does the future of healthcare look like to you?
AD: Precision medicine is one thing that comes to mind. It’s going to be hyper personalized. Using the data that we’re able to generate, you’ll be able to understand the best course of management for an individual patient and continuously evolve care so that person is able to live the best life possible. It’s going to be a place where care is untethered and can occur anywhere and the best resources and the right resources are brought to people as they need it. It’s almost like having a healthcare GPS for each person, in the sense that you will be able to use data to understand where each person is along their journey and the specific routes that they need to take to get where they need to go. This can include making healthcare more understandable and relatable so we can help patients with micro-choices that they need to make on a daily basis. We’re doing some fascinating work with Google figuring out how to make healthcare more accessible to people. Tomorrow’s healthcare looks like a place where the physicians have tools that enable them to take care of people and where automation enables a more efficient process.
AJ: While we’re trying to make healthcare more personalized for consumers, we’re also helping providers to get more out of the time that they spend with patients. That means helping them to understand – what to do, for whom, and why. We’ll move away from the way medicine has been practiced for years when every treatment is almost a mini clinical trial. There’s a reason doctors say, “I’m going to try this for you.” Too often, they don’t know if it’s going to work. There needs to be a lot more confidence and precision so the doctor actually knows what’s going to work for the person standing in front of them. We shouldn’t have to ask patients to go through so much trial and error to actually figure out if a solution exists.
AD: I fully agree. Each person does not need to be a new experiment. Both of my parents are physicians and I hear it all the time. There are patients that you do need to spend time with, but how do you use data and technology to activate and enable the extraordinary brilliance of the physician? We’re starting to get to a point in healthcare where we have the infrastructure, frameworks, and capabilities to begin making the transformation to deliver personalized care on a larger scale. We can try to build the world we want to live in.
TW: What advice do you have for other startup leaders?
AD: I’ve been accused of being intelligent, but I’ve never been accused of being wise so take this as one data point. Nothing in healthcare is a quick lift. This is something that requires a lot of thought because you are actually impacting people’s lives. You have to respect what it is that you’re working on. It’s not a short journey. It’s a journey that needs to be thought through clearly. It’s important to establish a solid foundation for the problem you want to address. If you’re thinking about innovating in healthcare or starting a business, now is a time of tremendous hope. The reimbursement landscape is shifting to a more value-based model and now, more than ever, everyone realizes how much work needs to be done.
AJ: More than most industries, healthcare lures you in with the ambition to solve a very specific problem, but then you end up trying to solve twenty. You have to be careful and smart about knowing what problem you are trying to solve and try to stay as close to that core problem as possible. This industry will humble you if you aren’t laser focused on the issue at hand. But this is a time when some of the stars are beginning to align in a way that you’re not battling some of the same headwinds that were in place a short while ago. There is real opportunity to drive change, and the industry needs and wants innovation.
About the Interviewer
Terrance Wallace is an Associate in Oliver Wyman's Chicago office. He has received numerous honors and awards for his clinical expertise and scholarship in geriatrics. He now brings this perspective to strategy work in healthcare.