Startup Spotlight: Deep Domain helps hospitals understand, access health records

Deep Domain CEO Howard Mahran.

There is no doubt an incredible amount of data now available in the medical industry. But Howard Mahran and Jeff Hummel noticed a huge problem with all that information nearly a decade ago, when every time they went to a new clinic or hospital, they had to provide the same answers over and over again.

“Nearly every report, every analysis for every project was being recreated as if they were new each and every time,” Mahran said. “There was very little code being reused, and very little knowledge being shared in any meaningful way.”

Frustrated with the high cost of solutions, lack of standards, and inability to share knowledge, Mahran and Hummel founded Deep Domain in 2007 to give doctors, clinicians, analysts and administrators more efficient healthcare reporting and analytics applications by using database virtualization technology. 

Deep Domain worked with community clinics to build its software, which helps hospitals automate the entire reporting process. Customers of the Redmond-based company include Swedish Hospital, which has improved door-to-doctor wait times in its emergency department from 52 minutes to 20 minutes with Deep Domain’s products. 

We caught up with Mahran for this installment of Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature presented by Comcast Business.

startupspotlightExplain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Deep Domain’s database virtualization technology solves one of modern healthcare’s most difficult challenges: Turning the data locked inside electronic health record systems (EHRs) into information that’s actually usable by doctors and managers of clinics and hospitals.”

Inspiration hit us when: “While debriefing after a client meeting in 2005, my co-founder and I began addressing why every project being paid for had to be a one-off. Every time we went to a new clinic or hospital, we were being asked to provide the same answers to the same basic questions from different data sources. Nearly every report, every analysis for every project was being recreated as if they were new each and every time. There was very little code being reused, and very little knowledge being shared in any meaningful way.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Bootstrap and then angel. After raising a small amount of money to found the company in late 2007, the 2008 financial crisis hit, making it impossible to raise further funds. After running the company as a technology-enabled consulting business for several years, we raised a small amount of additional capital from local angel investors in 2011, rebuilt the technology platform from scratch in 2012 and 2013, and released the product to the market in late 2013.”

Deep Domain's dashboard views lets users  see how their clinics are performing  in real-time.
Deep Domain’s dashboard views lets users see how their clinics are performing in real-time.

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “A fundamentally different approach to healthcare data analytics that allows us to deliver a platform that is far more usable by non-programmers and far less expensive than traditional data warehouse based technologies.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Working through the ‘Great Recession’ of 2008 and using that downturn to hone our knowledge and generate sales in a marketplace that was squeezed for cash.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Founding the company in late 2007. Couldn’t have been a worse time to try and raise our first round of capital than during the financial crisis.”

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Bezos. The healthcare world is dominated by extraordinarily expensive technology solutions that are out-of-reach to all but a few privileged systems. has democratized the marketplace through the smart use of technology leveling the playing field, lowering prices, increasing options and making items that were previously inaccessible, accessible to all.”

Our world domination strategy starts when: “Our data virtualization technology replaces traditional heavy data warehouse based systems as the standard for cleaning and organizing data from multiple data sources in the health IT world.”

DDLogoRivals should fear us because: “Our platform delivers the power and functionality similar to a traditional data warehouse, but at 1/10th to 1/100th the cost.”

We are truly unique because: “No one else in the health IT industry makes healthcare data as easily usable and accessible without reliance upon expensive software systems and resources.”

The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “The Great Recession.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Healthcare is not the banking system with patients. It’s complex, wrought with issues, head-scratching, a lack of standards and entrenched legacy. With that said, it is critically important that entrepreneurs help change it for the good by not giving up when the going isn’t going. Keep zigging and zagging while keeping your eye on your ultimate vision.”

GeekWire’s regular Startup Spotlight feature offers an inside look at emerging Pacific Northwest tech companies. Check out the archive of past profiles here. Do you run a standout startup in the Pacific Northwest? Apply for Startup Spotlight.


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Taylor Soper

Taylor Soper is a GeekWire staff reporter who covers a wide variety of tech assignments, including emerging startups in Seattle and Portland, the sharing economy and the intersection of technology and sports. A native of Portland, Ore., and graduate of the University of Washington, he was named a “New Journalist of the Year” by the Society of Professional Journalists.