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Scouting Report-Truveta: Selling (De-Identified) Patient Data to Drive Innovation

The Driver:

On July 31, Truveta raised an additional $95M in a Series A round funded by its 17 health system partners all of whom contributed the same amount. Since we last wrote about Truveta back in February (please see Backed by Big Hospitals, a Former Microsoft Executive Wades into the Messy Business of Selling Patient Data, The HSB Blog 2/22/21) Truveta has added an additional three health system partners and increased the number of medical records which will be used to identify optimal health interventions. Truveta’s goal is to use this data across sub-populations to improve patient care and promote health equity. The company stated that funding will be used to grow the Truveta team and strengthen the company’s cloud infrastructure.

Key Takeaways:

  • Truveta’s health systems partners give it access to data that represent approximately 15% of the medical records in the U.S. and patients in 40 states.

  • Truveta’s platform allows researchers to account for biases where different groups receive different medical recommendations due to clinician bias.

  • Truveta believes the sheer volume of their data set will be an advantage, given there are nearly 7,000 rare diseases affecting 30 million people in the U.S. alone.

  • Truveta’s platform has the ability to improve medical education amongst future healthcare providers as it delivers insights for underrepresented populations.

The Story:

Founded by former Microsoft executive, Terry Myerson who led the Window’s and Devices Group, Truveta emerged from stealth mode last Fall by partnering with 14 health systems (now totaling 17). According to the company’s website, its partnership with the 17 health systems provides them with “an unprecedented data platform” given that their partners represent approximately 15% of the medical records in the U.S. and patients in 40 states. In addition, given the concerns about privacy and security of data in its models Truveta has committed to transparency and privacy agreeing to allow third-party audits of their “security and anonymization technology”. Truveta collaborates with leading clinical researchers, allowing their input on its data analytics platform. Along those same lines, Truveta recognizes the concerns about transparency and explainability in AI models and has also committed to closely collaborating with the health systems and health systems’ leaders who hold voting seats on the board of directors to ensure their models are fair and equitable. As the company states on its website, “health providers own Truveta, reinvesting any earnings they receive from Truveta back into the communities they serve”. The company is growing rapidly going from less than 20 employees in October to over 100 today. According to Geekwire, researchers at Truveta’s health system partners are just starting to access the company’s datasets and it is anticipated that outside entities will be able to access data by the end of the year.

The Differentiators:

Truveta has trained machine learning models to aggregate patient data from partnered health systems and insurance claims to better clinicians’ datasets and allow for early health interventions. Although a common criticism of some machine learning models is that they may have been trained on data sets that inadequately represent minority populations, and are unable to detect racial biases in healthcare, the geographic and ethnic diversity of Truveta’s health system partners allow for substantial patient diversity. For example, while there are similar efforts by other systems, such as Duke and Partners, and commercial competitors, Truveta believes they have an advantage given the breadth of their health system partners and amount of coordination. In addition, as noted by Geekwire, Truveta believes that the strong heavy data consolidation between Truveta and its partners will allow it to get more rapid answers to which treatments can be more effective as well as which patient populations may be most at risk for certain diseases or conditions. As highlighted on the company’s website, Truveta believes the sheer volume of their data set will be an advantage, given “there are limitations to how much information a provider can retain as there are nearly 7,000 rare diseases affecting 30 million people in the U.S.”

The Big Picture:

As we noted in our article back in February, while many “stakeholders consider patient data as something owned by the individual...loss of control over patient data is dangerous and can lead to a loss of privacy, discrimination, and many other problems. Although Truveta is using de-identified data, pieces of information could be used to re-identify patients by those who have malicious motives. The most ethical way to utilize patient data to improve outcomes is to be transparent with patients and ask for their consent in sharing the data.” Patient anonymity should be prioritized. Given the rise of ransomware attacks, cybersecurity protocols have to be of the utmost importance and audited and tested frequently to ensure patient privacy and security of data. In addition, as noted in a Forbes article entitled “Truveta Wants To Save Lives With Data But That’s A Tall Order”, the company needs to be clear about how much data can improve health equity. As the article points out, our knowledge of health inequities has dated to at least as far back as the Surgeon General’s report in 2000 yet little has changed. In part, this is because existing data collection mechanisms are not designed to document [social determinants of health] variables either because they are intangible, as in the presence of a welcoming environment within a health system, or not collected in a manner granular enough to be meaningful.” As such, as the article concludes, “solving our health system challenges and making healthcare equitable for all must extend well beyond the data.”


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