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Positive Outcome

OBERD leads the growing market of health care data collection. 


Pictured: Andrea Wood, Ali Hussam and Andrew Clement. Photo taken by the Columbia Business Times. 

This story comes from the February 2017 edition of the Columbia Business Times.

Enthusiasm is an infinitely renewable resource for Dr. Ali Hussam. Through 21 years of working at MU, his enthusiasm drove him to delve into human-computer interaction in the health care world: the ways in which technology and humanity could combine to provide more information for physicians who, in turn, could provide better care for the patients. “We believe that every patient is a research patient,” Hussam says.

That passion turned into a pet project, which eventually — with the help of a team of programmers and physicians and the encouragement of his co-workers at the MU School of Medicine — turned into a company that predicted the rise of big data in the health care industry: OBERD, or Outcome Based Electronic Research Database, which he and co-founder Dr. Bill Plummer started in 2010.

The Columbia-born and -based venture is growing exponentially, nearly seven years after its launch, and is in prime position to factor into quality health care in the future nationally and internationally. OBERD has more than 70 clients that utilize its suite of products, including new clients that are now in the implementation process. Chief Client Officer Andrea Wood says they range in size from one- or two-person practices to health systems with more than 100 doctors. The typical client is a clinic with around 30 to 50 doctors, Wood says, about the size of the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute.

Through its medical partners, OBERD has catalogued more than four million outcome forms from nearly 1.8 million patients. The goal is to create a system where a physician can call upon a cohort of millions of patients with similar characteristics — age, height and weight, health history, lifestyle, current ailment, etc. — to cross-reference against a new patient in order to chart a course of treatment and see how that patient progresses.

Last year, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, or MACRA, set the goal for Medicare to make half its payments to providers based on patient outcomes rather than patient volume by the end of 2018. OBERD had been shopping its outcome collection database to investors since 2009.

“For almost three years, we were almost speaking a foreign language when we’d go to a health care provider — ‘What do you mean by outcomes?’” Hussam says. “And now, hopefully, it’s going to become the norm.”

Read the full story on Columbia Business Times' website