Abacus Insights strikes cloud partnership with Snowflake to help payers scale up data analytics

Cloud company Snowflake continues to build out partnerships with health IT companies as it ramps up competition with Amazon, Microsoft and Google in the healthcare space.

Data management company Abacus Insights is partnering with the data cloud provider to help health plans quickly scale up data analytics capabilities, according to the company.

Abacus Insights is a cloud-based technology company that offers a healthcare data integration and interoperability platform for large insurers.

Minal Patel, M.D., founded Abacus three years ago to tackle the thorny issues of data segregation and interoperability in healthcare.

A physician by training, Patel was head of strategy at a large health insurance company and saw firsthand the data challenges plaguing health plans. While insurers amass troves of data about their members, those data often sit in disparate systems, and it's difficult for health plans to make use of them to run analytics.

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The company’s data platform standardizes and curates healthcare data, moving it out of restrictive silos and securely into the cloud. The connected and standardized platform enables health plans to integrate and share data with doctors’ offices, hospitals, urgent care clinics, pharmacies, dialysis centers and labs along with numerous digital health applications, according to the company.

Abacus Insights works with its health plan clients to manage data for more than 10 million members and 15 million consumers.

The company wanted to step up its capabilities to enable health plans to generate data insights faster and at scale. Rather than build these capabilities on its own, Abacus Insights decided to collaborate with Snowflake, a publicly traded company that had the largest software IPO in history, raising $3.4 billion.

“We chose Snowflake because of the comprehensive nature of their capabilities that were highly complementary to ours," Patel told Fierce Healthcare. "The scalability and flexibility that Snowflake brings is not something our platform could provide for another 12 to 18 months."

Abacus Insights will use Snowflake's data cloud as a central hub for their ecosystem of data, giving health plan customers the ability to access, analyze and visualize all of their data on Snowflake’s single, integrated platform.

“Many health plans are sitting on troves of data, residing in silos that could be used to improve health outcomes and their members' experience. With our ability to ingest and curate healthcare data and Snowflake’s analytics capabilities, our joint customers will be able to unlock the value of their data and scale analytics quickly,” said Sumant Rao, chief product officer at Abacus Insights, in a statement.

“This changes the conversation to being one about data value and less about a complex change management process. The partnership with Snowflake enables us to meet our clients wherever they are in their analytics journey.”

There has been an increasing demand for solutions that help healthcare organizations organize data and use advanced analytics to lower cost of care and improve care quality. The COVID-19 pandemic has only ramped up that demand, Patel said.

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“It accelerated the need for every business out there to be as digital as possible. To electronically communicate with customers, if you don’t have the data right, you can’t begin to serve the customer in a digital foundation. The data fabric, if you will, has become an urgent priority,” he said. “The demand for what we do has certainly gone up tremendously.”

Healthcare interoperability is a big enough problem that Abacus Insights has attracted major investors including Blue Venture Fund, CRV, .406 Ventures, Horizon Healthcare Services Inc. and Echo Health Ventures, a strategic collaboration of Cambia Health Solutions and Mosaic Health Solutions.

The partnership helps Snowflake bring its cloud capabilities into the healthcare market, Patel said.

The ability to quickly, easily and securely access data is essential for uncovering meaningful insights that lead to more personalized care and better member outcomes, said Todd Crosslin, global head of healthcare and life sciences at Snowflake.

“Snowflake Data Cloud centralizes healthcare data, streamlines inefficiencies, and scales as data volume increases, to support deeper data insights, faster. We look forward to seeing how Snowflake’s technology and Abacus Insights’ data curation drive the future of healthcare,” he said.