Alumni Startup Puts the Power of Big Data in Healthcare Professionals’ Hands

As healthcare professionals, Amit Garg ’14 and Neel Butala SOM/MED ’14 understood the promise that big data held to improve care and cut costs in their sector. But there was a problem: relevant data was difficult—and expensive—to access.

Amit Garg ’14
Neel Butala SOM/MED ’14

Their plan to address the problem took shape at the Yale School of Management, when Garg and Butala discovered a mutual interest in leveraging technology to improve healthcare. Determined to simplify the process, they launched HILABS, an innovative technology startup with a unique platform that sifts through complex floods of data before putting it in the hands of professionals on the front lines.

Information technology in the sector has featured “a lot of disparate data systems that do not talk to each other,” and frustrated executives are forced to hire costly data professionals with no background in healthcare to try to sort it out, says Garg, HILABS’ CEO.

“Generating the kind of insights that you can act on is really challenging,” Garg explains. “Healthcare data is very dirty, and organizations spend most of their time cleaning this data up before they can use it.”

Based in Olney, Maryland, HILABS has a product development facility in Mumbai, India. The company’s technology accelerates the data cleaning and ingestion process by combining powerful machine learning techniques with healthcare-specific knowledge to make health data usable quickly. The platform autonomously analyzes data, discovers patterns, identifies anomalies, organizes data, and produces reports and data visualizations. “It lets healthcare professionals intuitively explore their own data and discover novel insights more rapidly,” says Butala, the company’s chief strategy officer and a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Garg and Butala met when Garg was enrolled in Yale SOM’s  MBA for Executives program and Butala was in the full-time MBA program while also earning a degree at Yale School of Medicine. Garg had deep experience in IT and data analytics, while Butala brought firsthand knowledge in healthcare delivery and policy. The idea for HILABS was born when they took SOM’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Investments course together.

“So many of the resources at SOM helped shape our idea,” Garg says. “My classmates in the MBA for Executives program gave me great feedback, and Dick Foster [executive in residence at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI) and a former SOM lecturer] helped direct our business plan, which was a finalist in the YEI business plan competition.”

After incorporating in 2014, HILABS raised $250,000 in angel funding, and Maulik Majmudar, a cardiologist and associate director of the Healthcare Transformation Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, came on board as chief medical advisor.

HILABS has a projected revenue of $1 million in the next year. Current customers include CareCentrix, Inc., and Northrop Grumman. Deals with other companies, including Deloitte, Aetna, and Blue Cross Blue Shield, are in the pipeline.

“When we meet customers, we say, ‘You know your business better than anyone else,’” Garg says. “We empower you to make your own data-driven decisions by providing this technology that makes the information you need readily accessible. It’s like we’re building the TurboTax of healthcare.”