Seattle Startup Truveta Raises $95M for Ambitious Vision to Aggregate Data Across Healthcare Systems
Seattle-based health data company Truveta today announced $95 million in fresh funding and the addition of three new participating healthcare systems, bringing its total to 17.
Truveta last year began an ambitious mission to aggregate medical records data from its partner institutions to link treatments with outcomes and underlying health. The 17 partners provided funding for the Series A round in roughly equal amounts, reflecting shared ownership and governance of the company.
Truveta emerged from stealth mode in the fall, and the company gained traction with the COVID-19 pandemic, said CEO Terry Myerson, a former Microsoft executive who led the company’s Windows and Devices group. Consolidating data from the partner institutions could speed up answers to key questions, such as which treatments are more effective and which population groups are most at risk and why, he said in an interview with GeekWire.
Potential customers include pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and other outside researchers interested in querying the data. The ultimate aim, said Myerson, is to learn which health interventions work best and to improve patient care.
“Life sciences and biotech has tremendous need for this data for safety and efficacy research or off-label drug research, and understanding unmet needs in the market,” said Myerson, who left Microsoft in 2018 after a 21-year run at the Seattle-area tech giant.
The 17 healthcare systems also include Providence, the largest health system based in Washington state, involved in forming the company. The new partners — Baylor Scott & White Health, MedStar Health and Texas Health Resources — hail from the Washington, D.C., area as well as a large swath of Texas.With the new partners, Truveta has access to medical records representing more than 15% of U.S. patient care across 40 states, according to a press release; the company will also will access data from insurance claims. “That is a massive amount of data,” said Myerson.
The new partners will add to the diversity of the company’s dataset, bringing in large Black and Hispanic populations. And that will help generate findings that reflect a broad sampling of the U.S., said Myerson. Adding to this diversity is CommonSpirit Health, which has a high proportion of Medicare and Medicaid patients.
Myerson emphasizes that the data will not be used for sales or marketing, as with companies that market insurance claims data to sell drugs or devices. And it will de-identify the data, assuring patient anonymity, in accordance with guidelines issued by the U.S. government as part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule, according to a spokesperson.
Other companies in the field include electronic health care vendors such as Allscripts and Datavant, which recently merged with health record company Ciox Health. Recently, several health data aggregators formed an industry consortium to foster the incorporation of medical record data into regulatory decisions, augmenting data from clinical trials.
Truveta stands out because of buy-in from multiple healthcare members and their close coordination, said Myerson. Leaders from the health systems have voting seats on the board of directors. Truveta is also pulling from an immense dataset, noted Myerson.
Because of its size and diversity, Truveta’s data may also have an edge in accounting for biases in medical care — such as different racial, ethnic or gender groups receiving different medical recommendations because of clinician bias. Such issues plague similar datasets, said Tyler McCormick, an associate professor in the Department of Statistics and Sociology at the University of Washington. “We want to be transparent to all those socio-economic factors,” Myerson said.
Harmonizing health data across multiple partners, each with its own electronic health record system, and aggregating it in a usable way is “a major challenge,” said McCormick, who has performed research with a nonprofit effort to aggregate claims data, the Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics program, and does not have a financial relationship with Truveta or a similar company.
McCormick likes Truveta’s approach of engaging closely with healthcare systems: “Involving providers and provider networks seems critical,” he said.
Truveta has ramped up from fewer than 20 employees in October to about 100 now. And while one third have backgrounds in fields like medicine or epidemiology, about two thirds have a computational or software background, what Myerson calls “deep technical depth.”
“We need more incredible machine learning engineers, clinical informaticists and data engineers that can really help bring this unprecedented data platform together,” he said. The new funding will enable Truveta to ramp up hiring and accelerate use of the data, said Myerson, who has also invested in the company.
Myerson left Microsoft in March 2018, and later that year took on dual roles in the world of venture capital and investing, joining Madrona Venture Group as a venture partner and The Carlyle Group as an operating executive. He remains in his role at Carlyle and shifted to the role of strategic director at Madrona. Myerson is also a part-owner of the Seattle Sounders FC.
Researchers within the health systems are just beginning to query the Truveta datasets, and he anticipates that the data will be ready for wider use, outside of its partners, by the end of the year. Other companies may build on Truveta’s platform to find insights into patient care and develop clinical decision support, he said.
“I think we’re going to find some incredible things that are going to impact the standard of care in this country just one year from now,” said Myerson. “Five years from now. I’d love to be helping families and consumers make better decisions about their care.” In the future, individuals could potentially access Truveta data to compare devices and medical interventions and their outcomes — such as which screw to use in knee surgery, suggests Myerson.
Myerson said the company also plans to release more detailed technical information about its approach later in the year.
“We have this very this big vision of saving lives with data,” he said. “That implies at the core that data is going to be used to impact the decisions that are made, whether at a public health level or in a clinical care setting. That is the vision.”
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