AI software company LeanTaaS today announced that it has acquired Hospital IQ, which provides automation solutions for hospitals. The combined valuation of the new company tops $1 billion, welcoming a 2023 unicorn.
Together, the pair optimizes operations at over 180 U.S. health systems, 4,500 operating rooms, 12,000 infusion chairs and nearly 18,000 inpatient beds. By combing LeanTaaS’ bread and butter of infusion, surgical and inpatient flow capacity optimization with Hospital IQ’s focus on workflow automation for inpatient flow and surgery, the pair expects to create an AI powerhouse.
LeanTaaS President and COO Sanjeev Agrawal told Fierce Healthcare that the duo is bringing two integral puzzle pieces together, patients and staff, to address two problems slamming healthcare – staff shortages and patient access.
“Hospitals weren't very digital even up to 10 years ago, so now the fact that there is data and timestamps of how patients have moved through a hospital, it's possible to optimize the way assets are used,” Agrawal said. “So both Hospital IQ and us have taken slightly different way perspectives on how to optimize the patient journey by allowing greater access, lower wait times and kind of smoothing the path of patient flow.”
LeanTaaS was backed by Bain Capital this summer and boasts previous investments from giants like Goldman Sachs. Its cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform called iQueue is used to manage operating rooms, infusion centers and inpatient beds.
CEO Mohan Giridharadas said in a video on the Santa Clara-based company’s website that the combined valuation of over a billion dollars will provide the scale and critical mass to expand. LeanTaaS announced the hiring of its first chief technology officer, Mark Fidow, this December.
Agrawal expects that Hospital IQ’s partnerships with Oracle Cerner, Siemens Healthineers and Altera Digital Health will compliment LeanTaaS' growth model of direct-to-market to help more hospitals implement “lean principles” sooner.
For Agrawal, “lean principles” at a hospital mean optimizing the patient journey so they don’t hurry up and arrive early only to wait for a poorly scheduled appointment to begin.
When seeing healthcare congestion, Agrawal looks to the skies. First, he points to the exponential improvement of predictive technologies’ abilities to forecast hurricanes in the last few decades, no different from new abilities to predict the weather patterns of patient flows.
Next, he points to how airlines harnessed that technology to fill every flight. LeanTaaS and Hospital IQ can be the air traffic controllers of hospitals: predicting storms of demand and making sure staffing supply is there to meet them. And with the state of healthcare, Agrawal thinks “operational excellence is not a luxury anymore.”
“If you're going to fly a plane, you need the plane, but you also need the pilots and the flight attendants and all of that to serve passengers,” Agrawal said. “LeanTaaS has taken the approach to get more passengers loaded on the plane. Hospital IQ optimizes the number of people required to serve those passengers. In a staffing crisis, this is really, really important, both need to come together to provide the full solution.”
By utilizing AI, machine learning, “a lot of math” and underutilized electronic health records data, Agrawal imagines hospitals of the future being as predictive as Google Maps, optimizing patient and staff time down to the minute. Instead of predicting traffic slowdowns due to weather or a baseball game, LeanTaaS and Hospital IQ predict just how long a patient will spend in an infusion chair, where they go before and after, how long it takes them to get there and who needs to be there when they arrive.
“Electronic health records are great databases where there are fantastic stores of information,” Agrawal said. “They do nothing so far to take the data and actually build models to be able to prescribe the right thing.”
LeanTaaS released its special report on the state of cancer centers in December revealing that 40% of the 100 responding cancer center leaders state that they would need to physically expand their space to keep up with current demand.
Half of these same centers reported that EHRs were hard to access, they were tracking operational performance manually in spreadsheets and used modified shifts or travel nurses to address staffing shortages.
The iQueue for Infusion Centers software is the bedrock of LeanTaaS’ SaaS success. The system analyses things like daily appointment patterns, chair utilization and staff availability to suggest an accessible appointment. Many centers reported increasing capacity by 15% to 25% and reducing wait times by up to 50%, according to the company.
Predictions show that 49% of Americans will be affected by chronic disease by 2025, 21% will be over 65 years old by 2030 and 30 million will be entering the healthcare system by 2025. Agrawal sees a tsunami coming.
“You can't keep throwing money at the problem anymore,” Agrawal said. “We're already spending 19%-20% of GDP on health care. So that's dried up, which means everybody has to do more with less. You've got to do more surgeries with the surgeons you have in the ORs you have.”