Agilum puts objective, real-world data to work to help hospitals, life science companies and payers administer better patient-centered and cost-effective care. As a healthcare business intelligence company, Agilum distinguishes itself by offering clients financial and pharmacy analytics that include control group comparisons detailing how disease and data move through populations. Clients can use Agilum’s information in meaningful ways to analyze populations, identify risks and develop interventions from a public health perspective.
Wyley McCoy, the new head of Agilum, joined the company recently and discussed where he sees the company going.
You’re a pharmacist by training. How did you end up in healthcare IT and data analytics?
I’ve been a pharmacist for over 20 years. I started in retail pharmacy, and after three years, I transitioned to a large nonprofit health system, where I was responsible for executing many different projects and always found myself learning something new. The projects often required extra attention from a pharmacist and engagement with providers, who were often resistant to the idea of adopting a new practice.
One day at the hospital during a rescusitation code blue, the cardiologist attending asked me to be the director at a nearby for-profit hospital. The patient survived and I accepted the position! As a first-time director, I had many bosses — or physician shareholders — who were all interested in the bottom line. Finding ways to use data to drive quality while keeping them happy with the latest and greatest drugs was a challenge.
I found my way back into nonprofit healthcare at a large health system with multiple hospitals and a very large physician group. Again, the challenge was establishing processes in an easily digestible format, in a timely, repeatable way, so the P&T committee could make data-driven decisions. Procuring and compiling data was painstaking, but necessary to improve operations.
As an example, we had a new free-standing surgery center where pharmacists would be required to prospectively review all medication orders. This was very contentious, because the nursing staff had previously had an open system to retrieve any medication when they wanted it. Despite a lot of planning and a trial period, the nursing staff continued to resist when the process went live, and things were very tense. Anesthesia providers and surgeons began expressing their own concerns about patient safety.
Think about this. Previously, nurses had open access to medications. Then we limited access and required a pharmacist to review medication orders before administering any drugs. All the procedures were elective, so how could the new process be unsafe? I turned to data to make the case.
I met with the chief of anesthesia at the nurses’ station and shared reports showing a timeline from the time the order was signed, to release, to pharmacist verification, nurse access and finally administration. As it turns out, the pharmacist took on average less than three minutes to verify orders, and nurses had immediate access to emergency meds. Nursing delay to administer the medication was approximately 45 minutes. Also, there were several instances where the new review process prevented dosing errors. Ultimately, the surgeons and anesthesia providers agreed that the new process helped improve patient safety.
That’s just one example of how data benefitted pharmacy, nursing, providers and most importantly, patients. Once leaders get the information and are able to digest it, their decision-making really changes.
Ultimately, through a partnership with CHRISTUS Health, I had the opportunity to advance to the corporate office, overseeing pharmacy operations in three states and work with CHRISTUS’ Latin American operations. Through the early days of the COVID pandemic, we had to leverage data resources to monitor and move drug supplies from one hospital to another. Louisiana hospitals had the earliest impact from COVID, and we were able to shift resources from East Texas for ICU patients who needed sedation. The monitoring system was manual, time-consuming and stretched the analytical resources that were available.
I started at Agilum as a solution product executive with the goal of helping refine CRCA P&T as part of the market launch. Following our executive pitch with the market-ready program, I was approached to lead Agilum. I was thrilled to have the opportunity and am privileged to work with this amazing team and innovative solution. CRCA delivers something that I could have used countless times over the years. I constantly think about the number of people at the hospital who, despite our best efforts and our time, were never able to put anything together that was even close to this. To be able to see what CRCA can do in a matter of seconds is mind-blowing. Beyond the hospital, there’s a huge value for life sciences, physician management, population health, payers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacy schools and residency programs.
What is your day-to-day role with Agilum right now? What are you focused on?
Today, we’re focused most on enhancing the user interface to make it more intuitive and user-friendly. Sometimes we expect it to act instantly, and while it works really fast, you have to remember it may be generating a population with millions of patients. We continually refine and index the data so those results can happen even faster.
The other area of focus is data quality — making sure all our reference data sets come from the source. A great example is licensing Common Procedural Terminology codes from the American Medical Association. That ensures that when an index of patients is presented, the customer receives the most robust, accurate populations that we can provide. Rounding out data governance, we’ve also established a data science and quality division. That team is now engaged with projects and enhancements from the beginning, focused on identifying the questions and how data can provide answers. There are now better controls over how the results look, and assurances that they are repeatable and can be validated.
What are your goals at Agilum and what would you like to accomplish?
The No. 1 goal is to get existing customers with Sentry, Agilum’s sister company, live with CRCA. Implementation with existing Sentry customers is easy, and most can be live in 24 hours. Next up is growth from new customers, partnerships for improved indexing and engaging with life sciences.
Agilum was ahead of the market when we published our data on COVID therapies. Looking forward, Agilum has a huge number of outpatient and inpatient encounters ready to help the specialty and biosimilar marketplaces have timely and relevant real-world data to improve patient care.
It sounds pretty exciting.
There’s a whole world of opportunity out there for us, and we’re excited to get moving forward.