August 19, 2021 Episode 033

Digital Health Hype Vs. Reality: Adam Gale on How KLAS Cuts Through With the Voice of the Customer

As the focus on digital health innovation reaches new heights, KLAS founder and CEO Adam Gale, shares lessons from 25 years in a position of influence with vendors and providers, and how they apply to the current market explosion.

Digital Health Hype Vs. Reality: Adam Gale on How KLAS Cuts Through With the Voice of the Customer

Investments in digital health hit an all-time high in 2020, only to surpass the new record within the first six month of 2021. Needless to say, there’s never been more attention placed on digital health innovation. But it makes for a crowded market, putting providers and health system CIOs in a challenging position where it’s impossible to vet the wave of new technologies and determine what will really help reduce costs and improve care.  

For 25 years, KLAS has helped providers navigate the increasingly complex healthcare IT landscape through research that’s focused on amplifying their voice in the market. With a rigorous process of collecting and assembling feedback from the people who actually use healthcare technology, KLAS forces technology vendors to face, act on, and improve from critical feedback, and gives providers a venue to seek advice from their peers. 

In this episode of Healthcare is Hard: A Podcast for Insiders, Keith Figlioli talks to the CEO and co-founder of KLAS, Adam Gale. They discuss his firm’s role in the digital health industry over more than two decades, and touch on topics important for providers, vendors, investors and others playing a role in the industry’s future. They cover a number of issues, such as: 

  • The beginning of health tech innovation. KLAS was established at what might feel like the beginning of digital health innovation – even before Meaningful Use was implemented – but once again Adam feels like things are just getting started. He talks about being in the right place, at the right time, to be a trusted voice during the nationwide rollout of electronic health records, and the uncertainty KLAS felt for the future once EHRs were in place. But he also talks about how being at the front edge of technology right now reminds him of those early days, and the limitless possibilities that lie ahead. 
  • Forcing change through public policy or private markets. Touching on a theme from the last Healthcare Is Hard podcast with ONC’s Steven Posnack, Keith and Adam discuss the levers for implementing change in healthcare IT. Adam shares a conversation he once had with Secretary for Health and Human Services, Mike Leavitt, where they both expressed envy for the other’s ability to help implement change. While Adam pictured government as a body capable of setting the course, Secretary Leavitt revealed how difficult this actually is. A slight move in any direction, according to Leavitt, creates waves of pushback from multiple angles. But as a private organization with influence over both vendors and providers, KLAS is in a unique position to drive change and improvements across the industry. 
  • Advice for entrepreneurs. Adam shares insights throughout the interview that are valuable for digital health startups and entrepreneurs, while providing direct advice at times too. For example, he talks about the strategic importance for early-stage companies to invest in their first customer relationships to develop one or two health system customers that will become good references. He says this might be a slower path to success, but stresses the power that word-of-mouth has in the healthcare industry and how this approach builds real value.

To hear Adam and Keith talk about these topics and more, listen to this episode of Healthcare is Hard.