A pedestrian walks over a banner showing Palantir Technologies during the company’s initial public offering (IPO) to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), September 30, 2020.
Michael Nagle Bloomberg | Getty Images
Palantir has hired its first chief medical officer in the U.S. government, a former chief executive officer of IBM Watson Health, as the data analytics company doubles its life sciences business.
While the company made its name in the software used by government defense agencies, sales of health agencies in the federal government have doubled in the last year.
The company announced Monday that it has hired Dr. Bill Kasler to lead public health and life science teams in Palantir̵
Kassler, a former deputy chief health officer at IBM Watson Health, said in an exclusive interview with CNBC that he would bring in expertise in clinical care and public health by helping to connect the software with researchers who could take advantage of it.
“Palantir is just an exciting group of young, talented data engineers and researchers and real, really intelligent, smart people,” he said. “But to implement technology, we need to understand the theory and logic and practice of healthcare and public health. And I think we see a lot of technology companies that want to get into healthcare but don’t know it, they make mistakes because they don’t know each other very well. And what I can bring to Palantir is my experience as a clinician, as a doctor of public health, as someone who has worked in this field for years to help with science and strategy and relationships. “
Invest in technology for the next pandemic
In his new role, Kassler said, he wants to help make Palantir technology available to researchers who can use it to make smart decisions in the next pandemic.
He highlighted three areas that he said could be improved with technological solutions such as Palantir’s: patching up supply chain problems, tackling localized waves of cases and tackling racial and ethnic differences.
Palantir’s foundry platform has played a significant role in the US government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as in the management of private companies in major supply chains. Palantir technology allows researchers to combine and overlay datasets in ways that can make supply chain weaknesses or outbreaks more obvious, allowing them to act quickly on their findings.
On the government side, the National Institutes of Health recently began using the Palantir platform to combine datasets from 50 different academic groups that fund in ways that would be cumbersome without the software.
Palantir technology helps groups share data in ways that protect patients’ identities, but allows them to gain more insight by analyzing a much larger set of data than they would have access to in their individual group settings. Julie Bush, who heads Palantir’s federal health business, said the data is now being used to better understand how Covid has affected people of different backgrounds and conditions.
Bush said such widespread data sharing was less common before the pandemic, but she hopes it will continue after that.
“People like to store their data,” she said. “And the pandemic really forced people to come together and be willing to share information and somehow put the bureaucracy aside. And, of course, depending on the data use agreements and other things, what we really saw was incredible cooperation, happening in government. “
Kasler said he wanted to see the technology used for more everyday uses. One example he gave is how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already used technology to help narrow down possible sources of an outbreak related to production. Instead of recalling products from a large region, Palantir can help the agency track the supply chain and set a smaller target.
“We don’t know what the next pandemic will be,” Kasler said. “So we need to be prepared. And to do that, we need to invest in systems that are able to have that situational awareness and be able to enable organizations to respond quickly.”
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