Meet January’s featured member of the month, axialHealthcare. axialHealthcare is the leading pain medication and pain care solutions company, and partners with health insurers nationwide to optimize pain care outcomes, reduce opioid misuse and materially improve financial performance.
Q&A with Joe Degati, CIO
What’s your role in the Nashville area?
With more than 30 years of experience in software engineering, infrastructure, analytics, security and compliance, I serve as CIO at axialHealthcare based here in Nashville, TN. Joining the company as the first IT professional and fifth overall hire in 2015, I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to axial’s growth by creating the IT roadmap and building the IT department, which now consists of more than 20 team members. Over the past 17 years and prior to axialHealthcare, I’ve been a CIO at various companies in middle Tennessee, including FISI-Madison Financial (now Affinion Group), Spheris (now M*Modal), and Medical Management Professionals (now Zotec Partners).
What is your organization’s mission?
axialHealthcare’s mission is to improve the wellbeing of patients in pain and mitigate opioid misuse while creating value for our partners.
What are the solutions your organization offers to its customers?
Drawing on an extensive, ongoing patient database of over 100 million lives and the latest clinical evidence on pain and opioid care, axialHealthcare identifies what is happening within a client’s pain population and directs implementation of a custom solution based on specific needs.
- axialINSIGHT is the operating platform that runs our solutions. Through advanced analytics, including predictive and machine learning models, axialINSIGHT delivers a customized view of pain care and opioid misuse, and their associated high costs.
- axialPRACTICE provides access to a full range of decision-support tools and ongoing clinical consultation for providers on pain and opioid best practices. axialPRACTICE gives a comprehensive view of a patient’s opioid risk factors and offers treatment guidance for improved outcomes.
- axialPATIENT is focused on supplementing care and meeting the engagement needs and preferences of the individual patient. A patient risk profile is created using advanced analytics and then leveraged to deploy appropriate, individualized care resources. Further, the Empower application extends a provider’s reach by educating patients, tracking pain triggers and medication usage, and connecting patients with axialHealthcare’s clinical care team.
- axialNETWORK identifies and assesses advanced pain management and medication assisted treatment providers and directs patients toward the highest performing pain care providers. Proprietary algorithms assess provider patterns and identify those providers following best practices and delivering exceptional clinical outcomes at appropriate costs.
What are the benefits of your technology?
Though the number of opioids prescribed has declined each year since its peak in 2010, 33,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2015, with most linked to prescription pain medication according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The cost of the opioid crisis is bigger than the disturbing number of lives lost – the White House Council of Economic Advisors recently raised its estimate of the epidemic’s annual cost to $504 billion.
Through utilizing advanced analytics in our operating platform, axialINSIGHT, we’ve been able to find the true cost of opioids for health plans, and provide tools and resources to improve patient outcomes and lower overall costs. For example, when analyzing the data of a specific client population, we found that 83,036 patients in pain on opioids represented 8.9% of the total client member population, but those patients drove 37.8% of the overall medical spend.
One of our large health plan clients located in a southeastern region hit hard by opioids had the following clinical and business results after partnering with us:
- 17% decline in opioid prescriptions
- 12% decrease in opioid-related deaths
- 10% decrease in morphine equivalent daily dose (MEDD) to below the CDC recommended maximum of 50; MEDD is a significant risk factor for overdose.
- 26% decline in multi-prescriber activity
- 25% decline in polydrug activity (co-prescribing with benzodiazepines, etc.)
- Greater than 80% provider receptivity to axialHealthcare’s care management engagement through the Clinical Consult Services team
- $3.50 per member per month (PMPM) savings for payers, validated by a third-party actuarial vendor.
Also, because of our consumption-based pricing model for IT, every dollar we spend can be directly attributed to the value we provide to our clients, providers and their patients. We closely manage costs to ensure our capacity is fully utilized. Our client reporting team outlines the effectiveness of our products and programs, and a medical economics team articulates the downstream cost savings within their network. All that to say, we are a low IT-cost provider with a high-value rate of return. The value of our IT capabilities are demonstrated in our results.
How are your employees finding value in NTC’s membership?
Through our company membership, we’ve been able to network with others in the industry at various NTC-hosted events, including the NashCocktails and TechTalks.
Our VP of Engineering, Christopher Lane, participated as a mentor in the most recent NTC Emerging Leaders in IT program, and found it to be incredibly valuable. He learned about and collaborated on innovative ways to successfully lead a tech team, and found it beneficial to have a built-in network of folks experiencing some of the same things in a city that starting to be in the national spotlight as a technology hub.
What are the opportunities you’ve seen elsewhere that you’d like to see more of in Nashville?
Mass transit. In order to stay competitive and attract the best and brightest resources from other cities, we need to facilitate commuting into Nashville from surrounding areas. The greater Nashville metro area is very attractive for many, and the continually rising real estate costs are proof, but in order to continue growing, we need to create and implement an innovative transportation plan.
What are you most excited about in Nashville?
We’re proud to be headquartered in Nashville, and truly believe this city has the foundation to become a clear leader in the development of disruptive technology. At axialHealthcare, we’re striving to do that through developing applications to combat the opioid epidemic in ways that have never been done before. Without the headaches of the startup scenes in San Francisco or New York, Nashville is a great place for tech startups and we’re eager to watch the community grow.
For more information and ways to get involved with axialhealthcare, check out these events:
- PyTennessee – February 10-12: axialHealthcare is a sponsor for this event, which is dedicated to the advancement and promotion of the Python language and its users. There will be four keynotes, 32 other talks and tutorials, and a young coders lab.
- PyNash February Dinner – February 22: This monthly event promotes the use of the Python programming language in Middle Tennessee. axialHealthcare Director of Engineering Kevin Harvey will present on the Django toolset, which axial’s engineering team uses heavily. Kevin authored a book on this topic, and his presentation at PyNash is titled “Test-Driven API Development with Django REST Framework.”
- HLTH: The Future of Healthcare Event – May 6-9, 2018: axialHealthcare CEO John J. Donahue will present at this event which is the “hottest, newest, largest and most important healthcare event creating a much needed dialogue focused on disruptive innovation.”
Visit their website to learn more!