Health Market Science: Harvesting the Web for Data on Health Care Providers
Sitting in his basement a few years ago, Mark Brosso, a long-time consumer and buyer of health care information, was at a crossroads.
“The data on health care providers was lousy,” says Brosso. “I figured there had to be a better way to provide this kind of information. If only I could aggregate many different sources of health care data and match them all together, I would get a better answer.” And just like that, the idea for Health Market Science was born.
Health Market Science (HMS), a BFTP alumni company, uses “web-harvesting” technology to download free data off the Internet and then compiles it in a database. The King of Prussia-based company collects data on 4.5 million health care providers and 1 million health care facilities across the country-including names, addresses, state license numbers, medical schools attended and languages spoken.
“Clients use our data to increase revenues, drive operational efficiencies, achieve regulatory compliance, and maximize market opportunities,” says Brosso. The data is used by pharmaceutical manufacturers, biotech companies, device manufacturers, payers and providers. HMS has contracts with each of the top 20 U.S. companies, 10 of the t.op 15 medical device companies, and two of the top five pharmacy chains.
Sorting Mountains of Data
Early on, Brosso hit a snag when the commercial merge/purge software applications he tested failed to handle the volume of data he was gathering. With the help of an investment from Ben Franklin Technology Partners, he built a data integration platform that, together with the initial web harvesting software he designed, has given HMS their competitive advantage ever since.
Ben Franklin invested $500,000, half of which went to developing the web harvesting technology, and the remainder to incorporating the technology into the overall data integration system.
“The money came at a critical time,” says Brosso. “The technology we built with it has helped us maintain our competitive edge ever since. We’re definitely a Ben Franklin success story.”
Finding a Need and Filling It
Companies who hire HMS use the health care provider information for a variety of different reasons-regulatory compliance, to drive their sales and marketing efforts, to make sure they don’t have duplicates in their own systems and more.
“For example,” says Brosso, “we have the largest database of inpatient and outpatient hospital claims in the country, which we use to rank doctors based on the number of patients they see.”
Brosso also found that none of the health care companies in the country maintains its own master database of health care providers. “They all need to license the data from a company like HMS,” he says.
Penetrating the Market
Despite having numerous competitors, HMS has been successful because of its web-harvesting technology, says Brosso. “We can download up-to-the-minute information off the Internet from professional associations, hospital websites-just about anywhere.”
The company is growing rapidly. Last year Inc. 500 rated HMS the 42nd fastest-growing company in the country. And at the end of 2006, HMS will be four times the size it was at the end of 2003-up from 32 employees to 120. “We were also one of three finalists for the Eastern Technology Council’s company of the year,” adds Brosso.
HMS is also thinking along evolutionary lines. “We plan to launch new data products and new data services products,” Brosso says. “We also bought an analytics business about a year and a half ago, and we are launching analytics products as well.”
Keynotes October, 2006
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