An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Brad Bostic (co-founder, chairman, and CEO) of hc1, which was honored in our:
- 2022 Best Tech Startups in Indianapolis
- 2021 Best Tech Startups in Indiana
- 2021 Best Tech Startups in Indianapolis
- 2020 Best Tech Startups in Indiana
- 2020 Best Tech Startups in Indianapolis
Tell us the origin story of hc1 – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
Healthcare’s one-size-fits-all, trial-and-error model of patient care has been on an unsustainable course for some time. I experienced its significant shortfalls first-hand as a close family member battled cancer. The impact of fragmented data and the lack of coordination between healthcare stakeholders was astounding to me. Consequently, I made advancing precision health a personal mission because it has the power to save lives by eliminating trial and error, one-size-fits-all care delivery and other wasteful practices. At the outset of the high-value care movement, healthcare organizations attempted to manage healthcare populations through technology while reducing costs, but at hc1, we knew that sustainable value enhancement could only come from improving individual patient outcomes – a goal we could achieve by tapping into the heartbeat of healthcare: laboratory data.
We believed that if labs could organize every individual’s information intelligently, they could unlock an unprecedented level of clinical decision support to personalize and improve care for all patients. Fast forward to 2021, and hc1 has been transforming lab data into personalized healthcare insights® for more than 10 years. Today, the hc1 Precision Health Cloud™ connects patient health data sources from various silos in health IT to uncover actionable signals across patient populations and cohorts that inform individual patient care decisions. By creating Precision Health Insight Networks (PHINs) to organize volumes of live data, including lab results, genomics, and medications, hc1 is able to deliver easily adoptable, scalable solutions on two robust platforms that ensure that the right patient gets the right test and the right prescription at the right time.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
While I knew lab data was extremely valuable when I started hc1, there were a lot of skeptics in the industry who did not agree. Many at that time only saw the lab as a commodity cost center and did not immediately embrace the hc1 vision to leverage lab insights for their ability to tell the story of patient health across populations. We had to first build critical mass by generating personalized insights across hundreds of labs.
Going forward, the healthcare industry must embrace infrastructures and strategies that tailor care to the person being treated. hc1 is now building Precision Health Insight Networks (PHINs) to transform previously disconnected health data into actionable information that identifies population and individual risk and drives personalized care decisions.
From the point when COVID-19 arrived in the U.S., public health officials lacked critical information and proactive real-time insights into the ebb and flow of the virus, denying them the ability to mobilize highly effective “localized” responses. Rudimentary infection rate reports were published days or weeks after the fact, with questionable accuracy, precluding appropriate action ahead of rapidly surging localized infection rates. And the data was reported in a macro-geographic form at the state or (at best) a county level. The lack of “hyper-local community data” kept the world’s wealthiest and most technologically advanced nation from producing the accurate, real-time risk insights required to properly manage a pandemic.
Without proactive insights offering a glimpse into the future, the default public health response was often cookie cutter actions guided by state-level decisions that did nothing to address the unique circumstances of each demographic segment and micro-community at a “hyper-local” level.
In just three months’ time, hc1 established a Precision Health Insight Network (PHIN) to securely ingest, organize, and normalize millions of lab test results from more than 20,000 ordering lab locations. Using multiple testing vendors with differing test compendiums for new and evolving COVID-19 viral and antibody lab tests, this PHIN powered local COVID-19 risk models that predicted and visualized hot spots around the country and served as early warning systems for local areas, ultimately powering a safe return-to-work solution.
Healthcare can build off this initial success with PHINs to advance and expand precision health models. By unearthing the insights from siloed data that already exists across multiple EHR, laboratory, and pharmacy systems, these solutions can provide clinicians with curated guidance right at the point of prescribing. These infrastructures can model alternative drug regimens that can then be shared in a collaborative manner through a medication action proposal, and lay the foundation for substantial ROI in terms of lives and healthcare costs.
What does the future hold for hc1?
Opportunities to leverage our hc1 Precision Health Cloud™ to improve healthcare are numerous. We are already making inroads with precision prescribing and Precision Health Insight Networks (PHINs). As we look to the future, hc1 is revolutionizing healthcare by infusing the concept of the digital twin in our platforms. In healthcare, a digital twin is a virtual, computational representation of a patient that empowers physicians to conduct diagnostic testing and use treatment protocols that are tailored to the unique needs of each individual patient. Having the ability to digitally model a patient’s unique characteristics and risk factors, then simulate how their body will respond to their treatment plan prior to acting, will prevent negative outcomes like therapy failure and adverse side effects. We could prevent the more than 2 million adverse drug reactions that occur each year and save lives.
One area where the digital twin could have notable impact is in treating many of the 300 recognized mental and behavioral disorders. This area of prescribing can be particularly challenging as patients with the same mental illness don’t always have the same symptoms and are often dealing with more than one diagnosis. It’s a combination that can exacerbate severity, impact response to medications, and increase suicide risks. Another example is cardiovascular medications like Plavix, an anticoagulant prescribed after coronary intervention that reduces clotting, strokes, and recurrent cardiovascular events. Up to one-third of the population has a genetic makeup impacting its effectiveness. Depending on the patient, double or triple the normal dose may be needed, or it may not work at all. In some cases, lower doses are required to prevent life-threatening bleeding.
Powerful partnerships between key technology leaders like Amazon Web Services, Snowflake, Quest Diagnostics, and hc1 are opening new doors to personalized care delivery that is precise and most impactful for individual patients. It’s an exciting time in healthcare, and we believe our current successes are just the tip of the iceberg.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Indianapolis?
Indianapolis is a vibrant city, primed to address our current and future growth trajectory. The city has provided the infrastructure, leadership, and employee base to allow us to experience rapid growth in recent years.
Indianapolis does not get the name recognition associated with other tech hotbeds across the country, but under the surface, the city has what it takes to bring together diverse teams and partnerships that drive innovation. In fact, the region has produced its share of successful startups in recent years and is rapidly becoming a power player in terms of attracting top businesses and talent.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Healthcare is a broad field that is constantly changing and evolving. For this reason, you need to have a precise focus when building something new in the industry. That’s what helped hc1 break through the noise. Our resolute focus was to ensure patients receive the right test and the right prescription at the right time, which enabled us to innovate faster and more effectively than much larger competitors that are trying to solve a broader set of challenges. My advice to entrepreneurs in healthcare is to identify an unmet need and segment of the value chain where there is potential for impact. Then surround yourself with the best people possible who have vision and are committed to innovating beyond the naysayers’ limits.