Bostinno: HBS-Born Startup Arms Doctors with Analytics to Provide Better Care by Dylan Martin

Originally Published in Bostinno on January 8, 2017

One of the biggest challenges healthcare providers face is improving care while lowering costs. The United States, in particular, is grappling with this issue as the top healthcare spender in the world while ranking No. 31 in life expectancy.

Out of the many startups attempting to solve problems in healthcare, one in Boston is trying to attack the double-pronged issue of cost and care through analytics software that is accessible to multiple stakeholders within an organization, doctors included.

The startup, Avant-garde Health, came out of stealth mode last year with a $4 million seed round from local venture capital firms General Catalyst, Tectonic Ventures and Founder Collective, along with the Rothman Institute, a Pennsylvania-based orthopedic care firm.

Avant-garde was founded in late 2014, but its roots go back to Harvard Business School, where the company’s CEO, Derek Haas, worked with professors Robert Kaplan and Michael Porter to develop a method for determining the true costs of healthcare.

This became the basis for Avant-garde’s cloud-based analytics software, which allows healthcare providers to compare their efforts for providing better, more cost-effective care and then gives them clear actions on ways to improve.

The software accomplishes this by tracking the healthcare outcomes of patients, measured by things like readmission rates, and the cost of each service, which includes the cost of each staff member involved and which supplies are being used. The data is pulled from a number of sources, including electronic medical records, insurance claims, financial and operational records, and even supply chain information.

Working with 16 healthcare facilities across the country now, Avant-garde has already found some promising results. The company found in a study of its launch cohort that it was able to reduce readmission rates by 33 percent, decrease length-of-stay for patients by 13 percent and reduce average spending by $2,100 per patient case.

In an interview with BostInno, Haas said the data collected by healthcare providers can often be very siloed, which results in different stakeholders only seeing one piece of a larger puzzle. This can lead to decision-making that could have an inadvertent negative impact on something else within the organization, such as patient outcomes. With Avant-garde, that problem is solved.

“It’s important to look at things holistically to understand the interaction between one part of care over the whole treatment,” Haas said.

One of the important aspects of Avant-garde is that it provides access to doctors, not just administrators, so they can have a better understanding of how they can improve their practices, Haas said. For instance, the system may tell a doctor that her operating room times are longer than her colleagues and then give her ways to make improvements, whether it’s in preparation or another stage of the operation.

“If you ultimately want to make a change inside healthcare institutions, it’s incredibly important for physicians to be involved in the decisions,” Haas said.

The software also gives healthcare providers visibility into the quality and cost-effectiveness of post-discharge services, enabling them to control healthcare costs and outcomes beyond what happens in their own facilities.

Avant-garde, which has 14 employees out of Harvard Launch Lab in Allston, is using its seed round to expand beyond orthopedics, spine and cardiology and into other service lines.

Dylan Martin
Tech writer for BostInno since 2015. Always looking for the real story behind the headlines. Have a tip about something our readers should know? Send me an email at I’m also available to talk on encrypted messaging apps.

Tom De SantesComment