The coronavirus pandemic has forced many hospitals to face an uncomfortable truth: They were sitting on treasure troves of patient data but, despite tens of millions of dollars spent on electronic health records and IT infrastructure, they were not. were unable to extract any useful information to help treat the virus that ravages the wards. That experience was the tipping point that prompted 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 company’s goal is to enable hospitals to monetize patient data that has been depersonalized in ways that improve existing treatments and develop new ones. With the addition of Texas-based Baylor Scott & White Health, MedStar Health and Maryland-based Texas Health Resources, Truveta Hospital now claims it represents organizations that provide 15% of patient care in the states. -United. The Seattle, Wash.-Based startup is not run by a veteran of the healthcare industry, but by former Microsoft executive Terry Myerson, best known for his work on Windows and Xbox.

At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Myerson got a glimpse of the data challenges facing hospitals from his former colleague BJ Moore, who is now the director of technology for the Providence healthcare system. “It was so clear that the world needed this to exist, whether it was the health inequalities that were exposed by the pandemic that could not be studied, or simply the inability to make decisions about it. how to treat patients, or the inability to effectively inform public health authorities, ”Myerson recalls. “[The need] creating this health system-driven data platform has become an imperative. “

Despite being a company of the hospitals that host patient data, Truveta faces competition from an army of cash-brimming digital health startups that are also tackling these issues through new federal rules that encourage data sharing. “We are excited about the scenarios around improving patient care, developing new therapies and ultimately helping families on their diagnostic journey,” says Myerson. But so are everyone, including the biggest electronic health record companies like Verona, Epic Systems, based in Wisconsin, and Cerner, based in Kansas City, Missouri, who also have big projects using depersonalized data and artificial intelligence in progress.

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

Hospital executives had been talking 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 renowned healthcare systems, the startup continues to develop its technology. How Myerson describes the approach very broadly is working with the IT team at each partner hospital to help them physically move data to the cloud, which includes the delicate process of standardization. He declined to specify the cloud provider, but said Truveta’s platform then provides tools for hospitals to analyze the data.

While Big Tech has long tried (and often failed) to solve healthcare interoperability issues, Myerson has said he’s up for the challenge. “I made my video games. I did my corporate IT, ”he says, reflecting on his time at Microsoft and his decision to move into healthcare. “It seemed like an incredibly meaningful thing to build for the world. “

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