Startup Interview – CliniCast 2/1/13


This is the first in a series of posts featuring the Rock Health companies. I spoke with Jack Challis,  co-founder and CEO of CliniCast a couple of weeks ago about the company, the product, and the experience of being in Rock Health. Below is a mix of e-mail responses and those directly from our phone call.


In a couple of sentences, what does CliniCast do?

CliniCast empowers providers to deliver better outcomes at a lower cost by identifying high-risk patients, matching those patients to interventions, and integrating action items into workflow. Our risk models cover both primary admission in six months and readmission in 30 days, as well as cost models for the total cost of care in six months and 12 months.

The rumor is that good, timely data in healthcare can be hard to get. Where do you get your data?

We currently build tailored models based on the specific data sources of our customers. Our vision of where we could go is we could build models that are informed by multiple sources of data. Let’s say we have the CliniCast risk score. That CiniCast risk score can be validated against multiple customers’ data so everyone who’s in the system benefits from everyone else.

The concept of a CliniCast Risk Score sounds interesting. Can you tell me more about it?

We think about it like an individual credit score, which is really a data-driven standardized score that enables financial institutions to talk about risks in their credit portfolio. Those scores are the same for getting a house loan or a credit card. The credit score creates a consistent language about risk and you can use different tools to manage that risk. I think for us the specific tools for managing risk are nice, but if we can build the score, we’ll build the language. It’s a real opportunity.

When did you launch?

We started the company about a year ago. We’ve taken it from a brief sketch to building our own prototype and really spending time understanding what is the problem that we want to solve and what are the problems that we don’t want to solve. We finished the first version of our ARTO analytical solution last June.

What you’re talking about doing in healthcare seems to require a lot of knowledge of healthcare, data, and risk modeling. Who’s behind CliniCast and why did you launch it?

Krates Ng and I co-founded CliniCast. Krates comes from a software engineering background, with more than 15 years of enterprise software experience. I come from a scientific background, having completed a physics PhD. Krates and I met working on the IndiGO health risk calculator at Archimedes. We realized that as providers took on more risk, there was a need for smarter risk management software built specifically for providers. We decided to make that a reality.

Risk modeling and management is immensely valuable for all sorts of healthcare enterprises. Who are your target customers?

We are currently focused on at-risk providers who must manage large numbers of patients with chronic disease. This includes many physician groups, Accountable Care Organizations and integrated delivery networks. We have also received a lot of interest from nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and home care agencies. I think we are just scratching the surface of this opportunity.

At these target customers, who are your target users?

Case managers, sometimes known as care managers. They are specifically responsible for helping patients adhere to their care plan, ideally improving outcomes and reducing costs in the process. CliniCast sees its role as building useful tools that empower case managers to manage their populations, streamline workflow, and measure effectiveness.

Case management systems generally aren’t very smart. By smart, I mean able to prioritize patients in terms of performance metrics that you’re trying to optimize around. They tend to force people into clumsy boxes in order to manage their care in some kind of standard way. We want to provide the same kind of risk stratification and workflow optimization that the financial industry has been very successful in implementing. We want to bring that to care managers.

For other roles, obviously if you have a risk score, you can use that to create a currency of success and that can be used to track performance of staff or establish norms so you can compare one clinic with another clinic or one group with another group. Obviously that use case is at administrative level.

What kind of traction do you have?

We are planning to initiate a series of exclusive pilots within the next few months. Unfortunately, I can’t really say much more.

How do you make money?

Our value proposition is to improve the bottom line performance of our customers. We like to link our success to our customers’ success. That’s why we typically get compensated by shared risk or milestone payments.

Obviously you’re not alone in trying to help determine and manage patient risk. Who are your competitors?

We see the following population management organizations as going after the same value proposition — Verisk Health, OptumInsight, and Lumeris.

What’s makes CliniCast different?

CliniCast offers uniquely powerful predictive models for high-cost and high-risk patients by incorporating wider data sources like labs, pharmacy, claims, and unstructured free text. A larger number of data sources leads to more powerful models.

Tailoring risk models to high-utilizing subpopulations, either by comorbidity (diabetes, heart failure or renal failure) or by procedure (post-discharge, post-surgery).

Our models continuously improve. We use very sophisticated adaptive algorithms to make our risk models smarter as our customers acquire more data.

Integration, risk modeling, and enterprise acquisition aren’t cheap in healthcare. How are you funded so far?

We were initially funded by friends and family. In October, we joined RockHealth, an accelerator here in the Bay Area. As part of the program, we received investment from Kleiner Perkins, Aberdare Ventures, Mohr Davidow Ventures, and Mayo Ventures.

How many work at CliniCast?

We have four full-time employees. In addition to Krates and me, Jason Rudy is a statistical rock star who is building out our analytics capability. We just hired Jessica Qu, who is helping with our business development.

Why did you apply to Rock Health?

Many reasons. I think we knew that in order to build a great business and to do what we needed to do, we needed insights into lots of things that Krates Ng, my co-founder, and I don’t know. Also, I think that it’s a good process to commit to yourself to a form of program with a big goal at the end. For us, our big goal is to have a customer pilot. I think Rock focuses you and it allows you to avoid distractions that take you off course.

Rock Health has these incredible partners. I think the real attraction to us at Rock Health is that they have so many relationships with the various healthcare stockholders and investors. We’ve also had the benefit of knowing the really incredible group of people that are founders of other Rock companies. These are people that have really valuable insight and experience.

Anything else you want to add?

CliniCast is always looking to connect with providers that are interested in using their data to better identify patients, to better match those patients to appropriate interventions, and to better integrate those action items into workflow. If you would like to hear how we could create value for your organization, please contact us.


Travis Good is an MD/MBA involved with health IT startups. More about me. If you’ve got a startup in healthcare and would like to inquire about an interview for our blog, please email me.

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