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Data is the new oil, it’s often said. It also might be the next cure for what ails you.
Providence and 13 other major U.S. hospital groups have formed their own startup to centralize patient information. Called Truveta, the new initiative will sell anonymized data that healthcare providers and researchers can use to develop better drugs and therapies.
Real Problem in a Real Market
Former Microsoft executive Terry Myerson will lead the new company, which will combine records representing about 13 per cent of all U.S. hospitals.
Currently, healthcare researchers at a given institution or facility often face a dearth of information in their own data sets, especially when studying rare conditions or specific cancers. As well, drug and therapy trials frequently don’t include enough data on participants from minority backgrounds who could have different outcomes. It’s like wandering down a tunnel with a flashlight that’s half out.
This is also why health data has become increasingly valuable to drug companies in their research and development, and to health providers trying to improve care. IQVIA Holdings, one health data firm, estimates the addressable market is $230 billion.
Generating Equity with Equity
Truveta plans on setting itself apart from the competition by collecting data that can address equity issues. Many existing databases rely on health insurance records, which are disproportionately white and don’t include the uninsured — but Truveta has access to records in every state and at the provider level.
It will make money by selling access to patient data, but projects will need to meet ethical standards set out by a committee of doctors, scientists and patients. Patients in the affected systems will also receive notifications about what is being collected and advised of their privacy rights. Meanwhile, data with names, addresses and identifiable characteristics removed are exempt from patient privacy regulations and can be used freely.
If one thing has made Truveta’s mandate clear, it’s been the Covid-19 pandemic, which has thrust healthcare providers into the fire as they’ve worked to treat an evolving new virus. “The dearth of data is just making trying to do health care miserable,” said Rod Hochman, Providence’s CEO and the chair-elect of the American Hospital Association.