, Hospitals Raise $95 Million To Use Patient Data To Improve Medical Treatments, The Nzuchi News Forbes

Hospitals Raise $95 Million To Use Patient Data To Improve Medical Treatments

, Hospitals Raise $95 Million To Use Patient Data To Improve Medical Treatments, The Nzuchi News Forbes

The coronavirus pandemic forced many hospitals to confront an uncomfortable truth: they were sitting on troves of patient data but, despite tens of millions of dollars spent on electronic health records and IT infrastructure, couldn’t extract useful insights to help treat the virus ravaging the wards. This experience was the tipping point that pushed a group of 17 hospitals to come together, including three new members announced this week, to raise $95 million for a startup called Truveta.

The aim of the company is to enable hospitals to monetize patient data that has been de-identified in ways that may both improve existing treatments and develop new ones. With the addition of Texas-based Baylor Scott & White Health, Maryland-based MedStar Health and Texas Health Resources, the hospital-governed Truveta now says it represents organizations that provide 15% of patient care in the United States. The Seattle, Washington-based startup is helmed not by a veteran of the healthcare world, but by former Microsoft executive Terry Myerson, who’s better known for his work on Windows and Xbox. 

At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Myerson got some insight into the data challenges faced by hospitals from his former colleague B.J. Moore, who is now the chief technology officer at Providence Health system. “It was just so clear the world needed this to exist, whether it be the health inequities that were laid bare by the pandemic that couldn’t be studied, or just the inability to make decisions around how to treat patients, or the inability to inform public health authorities efficiently,” Myerson recalls. “[The need] to create this health system-led data platform just became an imperative.”

, Hospitals Raise $95 Million To Use Patient Data To Improve Medical Treatments, The Nzuchi News Forbes

Despite being a venture of the hospitals that house patient data, Truveta faces competition from an army of digital health startups flush with cash that are also attacking these problems thanks to new federal rules that encourage data sharing. “We’re excited about scenarios around improving patient care, developing new therapies, and ultimately helping families with their diagnostic journey,” says Myerson. But so is everyone else, including the biggest electronic health records companies, like Verona, Wisconsin-based Epic Systems and Kansas City, Missouri-based Cerner, which also have big projects using de-identified data and artificial intelligence underway. 

It’s been around a decade since the federal push for health data digitization began in earnest, and while certain hospitals can easily share information within a larger health system, the transfer of data from unrelated hospitals has remained a significant challenge. Many hospitals have spent tens of millions of dollars on electronic health record systems only to feel like their patient data is trapped. “We have a bunch of very small bespoke data efforts,” says Myerson. “And I think what our country needs is this diverse data platform managed incredibly well for its ethics, privacy, security, and equity.”

Hospital executives had bandied about the idea of a data consortium for several years, but it wasn’t until September 2020 that four systems finally took the plunge: Providence, Trinity Health, Advocate Aurora Health and Tenet Health. And while Truveta has attracted some big name health systems, the startup is still building out its technology. The way Myerson very broadly describes the approach is working with each hospital partner’s IT team to help them physically move data into the cloud, which includes the tricky process of standardization. He declined to specify the cloud vendor, but said Truveta’s platform then provides tools to the hospitals to analyze the data. 

While Big Tech has long tried (and often failed) to solve healthcare interoperability issues, Myerson said he is ready for the challenge. “I’ve done my video games. I’ve done my enterprise computing,” he says, reflecting on his time at Microsoft and decision to move into healthcare. “This just felt like an incredibly meaningful thing to build for the world.”

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