Health Catalyst Exec is on Data-Driven ACO Mission

Christopher Cheney, July 16, 2014

After helping to establish managed care plans for an insurance carrier, David Burton, MD, former CEO and chairman of Health Catalyst, is still committed to helping providers retool themselves into accountable care organizations.


David Burton, MD

Who can resist a good epiphany?

For David Burton, MD, the flash of clarity that set the course toward the twilight of his career came just weeks after he launched one of his most ambitious enterprises.

Burton, who had a distinguished career as an ER physician, co-founded Intermountain Healthcare's managed care plans after joining the company in 1982. Now known as SelectHealth, Intermountain's managed care plans provide insurance coverage to about 600,000 people.

His eureka moment came soon after the rollout of Intermountain's managed care plans.

"I had 10% of the premium dollar to work with," Burton says of Intermountain's payer slice of the premium rate pie. "That would get lost in the noise of the total premium." He decided the most effective way to build a value-based healthcare delivery system would be on the provider side of the equation.

While acknowledging that  political reality has dictated the terms of transforming healthcare to a more value-based effort, Burton believes federally driven strategies to use payment reform such as Medicare policies to spur change are a "backwards" approach to the problem.

Burton says providers need to lead the value-based transformation, which is a process that will take far longer than any election cycle in Washington. "Transforming the delivery system takes at least 10 years to have a significant impact," he told me.

Christopher Cheney

Christopher Cheney is the senior finance editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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