Emeryville, Calif.-based MedeAnalytics, Inc. provides performance management IT solutions to the healthcare vertical to ensure accountability and improve clinical, operational and financial outcomes. Its solutions for hospitals, physician practices and payers aggregate data from multiple sources and deliver relevant, actionable information in an efficient, accurate and prescriptive manner. This aggregation and delivery brings with it a level of transparency that also ensures system accountability, with attendant quality and efficiency benefits.

The company, which also has offices in Dallas and London, provides its community of 800-plus healthcare clients with services ranging from consulting services, implementation and training to ongoing support and account management. MedeAnalytics, whose solutions do not require the installment or deployment of hardware or software, prides itself on implementations of 90 days or less.

Challenges and Solutions:

MedeAnalytics wanted to build upon the launch of its Accountable Care Organization (ACO) solution (introduced to the market in late 2010) and its accompanying Accountable Care Organization Resource Center by gaining a deeper understanding of how leading healthcare providers and payers around the nation were developing commercial payer-led ACOs. It also hoped to take this understanding and transform it into educational insight for the benefit of the healthcare industry in general.

“The accountable care organization signals a philosophical shift in how healthcare is going to be delivered in the United States,” explains Ken Perez, senior vice president of marketing for MedeAnalytics. “Of all the healthcare delivery reforms and developments in the commercial payer market, I would say it’s the most significant in terms of its potential for change, and it also leverages well what we do as a company.”

Perez and his team knew that to offer their clients-all of whom would in some way be affected by accountable care-an authentic understanding of the new care model would require in-depth conversations with providers and payers from across the country. “It’s a new area where information is sovereign,” he says, adding that it was vital to the evolution and continued success of the MedeAnalytics ACO solution to get the “pulse of the market in terms of the pacesetters in this emerging, promising area.”

MedeAnalytics contracted market research provider Porter Research for the first time in late 2010 to assist with this project, opting to utilize the Bulletin Board Focus Group (BBFG) methodology-rather than a traditional, in-person focus group-in order to more efficiently and cost-effectively elicit insight from providers and payers from around the United States.

“It was the first time we had used the BBFG approach,” says Perez. “We have a lot of experience with behind-the-glass focus groups, but this particular project was a different nut to crack. We were trying to find the best and the brightest, the leading organizations in the ACO world of commercial payers and providers – two different populations. But they’re not clustered in a given metropolitan area. They’re all over the United States. Due to that geographic distribution, we had to figure out an effective way to get their participation. The BBFG approach accomplished that.”

MedeAnalytics and Porter Research embarked on the research project with a very aggressive timeframe in order to conduct two BBFGs – provider and payer – simultaneously over a two-week period. Intense communication on the part of both companies enabled the selection of group participants.

“We put together a list of 40 to 50 entities from which Porter then helped us pull together a subset,” Perez explains. “That subset – an elite group of payers and providers – became the participants in our BBFGs. We were able to span the geographic challenges by using that approach.”

Over those two weeks, Porter Research worked to derive insight from participants’ focus group comments. The study encompassed both quantitative and qualitative questions.  A sample of the types of questions posed to the group are highlighted below:

  • Why are your organizations considering forming/participating in an ACO?
  • What are your biggest perceived challenges?
  • What type of quality and cost-performance metrics should be implemented?
  • What type of technology solutions will your organization invest in to support this care delivery model, which are underserved today?

The BBFG methodology helped MedeAnalytics elicit the participation of providers and payers from around the country, and it also offered more opportunity to gain added in-depth insight into certain sections of the study.

“An in-person focus group gives participants a half-time break, if you will, where the facilitator comes out, goes behind the glass and asks the client if there’s anything else that needs to be discussed and drilled down on,” says Perez. “But because a BBFG occurs over several days, in some cases several weeks, there are many such time-outs that allow the facilitator to drill down pretty specifically with specific participants. Instead of just asking 25 questions, you’re able to ask more, and with greater depth and insight. The opportunity for drill down is helpful and valuable.”


MedeAnalytics has used the insight gleaned from the BBFGs to develop and refine its ACO solution, and it has reported some of the study results as a service to the healthcare industry at large. “We wanted to make a name for ourselves in terms of thought leadership,” says Perez. “We packaged a subset of our findings in an approachable, simple manner to the media, which was definitely well received. It’s also been a nice, almost disarming conversation-starter with clients because it lets them see what some of their peers are doing with regard to accountable care.”

The results of the study were used to shape the company’s ACO technology framework, which has been communicated in a popular white paper, a highly attended webinar, and extensive media coverage.

Research results have made a positive impact throughout the company. “Such research serves as an ‘engine’ for marketing in general,” says Perez. “We leverage it across product marketing, product management, development, marketing communications and sales, so it’s an important, strategic investment for our company.”

For more information on MedeAnalytics’ ACO solutions for provider and payers,
see ” MedeAnalytics: Taking a Team Approach to Accountable Care.”