Tenet, Providence, other health giants band together to form new health data startup

Some of the biggest names in healthcare including Tenet Health, Providence and CommonSpirit Health have launched a new startup to pool and analyze patient data for research and drug development.

Capitalizing on health systems' troves of patient data, 14 health systems are backing the new company, called Truveta. Among the backers are AdventHealth, Advocate Aurora Health, Baptist Health of Northeast Florida, Bon Secours Mercy Health, Hawaii Pacific Health, Henry Ford Health System, Memorial Hermann Health System, Northwell Health, Novant Health, Sentara Healthcare and Trinity Health.

The Seattle-based startup will pull together and sell normalized and de-identified data from the group of providers with a keen eye on protecting patient privacy and security, the companies said in a press release.

The new data platform, using the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning, will help deliver "personalized medicine, advance health equity, and empower the health community with insights on how to best treat patients," the press release said.

The 14 health systems represent tens of millions of patients and operate thousands of care facilities across 40 states. 

RELATED: Mayo Clinic taps Google Cloud as strategic partner to accelerate innovation in AI, analytics and digital tools

Truveta will be jointly owned by the hospital operators and will be board-advised with a strong focus on ethics and health equity, data integrity and clinical outcomes.

Former Microsoft executive Terry Myerson will lead the new startup.

Myerson told The Wall Street Journal that the company is still developing its pricing plans. Potentially, fees will vary depending on the type of entity seeking access, the WSJ reported.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how much the world needs to learn faster, so we can better serve our communities,” Myerson said in a statement. “Our vision is to save lives with data. We want to help researchers find cures faster, empower every clinician to be an expert, and help families make the most informed decisions on their care. We believe the Truveta platform can help improve health equity and advance personalized medicine. We are honored to be partnering with innovative and world-class health providers in this pursuit.”

“For years we have seen the opportunity for diverse health providers to come together with a shared sense of purpose and use our collective data for the common good of humanity. With Truveta, we created a unique model that is led by the health providers yet supported by one of the most talented technical teams to focus on health,” said Rod Hochman, M.D, president and CEO of Providence, in a statement.

Hochman said the hospital systems will focus on research questions around health equity as well as improving medical treatment, the WSJ reported.

The COVID-19 pandemic illustrates how quickly healthcare must move to effectively serve patients, according to the companies. The healthcare community has made remarkable progress, from diagnosis to vaccine distribution in less than a year.

Truveta’s innovative health provider partners agree COVID-19 must be a catalyst for even more rapid progress, the companies said in the press release.

Truveta aims to drive innovation in patient care and the development of new therapies through the creation of a data platform researchers can use to analyze billions of clinical data points with a single search.

RELATED: Google, Ascension defend their health 'data transformation' partnership

The Truveta platform will structure and normalize a wide range of data across structured and unstructured data types to unlock the power of de-identified data across all diagnoses, geographies and demographics. Using advanced AI and machine learning, Truveta will deliver continuous learning to physicians, researchers, biopharma and more with aggregate analysis of conditions, therapies and prognoses, according to the press release.

Health system leaders involved in the effort said protecting patient data privacy would be a key priority for Truveta.

“We know health data is unlike other data. It is the very definition of personal,” Myerson said. “While we embark on our pursuit to generate knowledge and insights to improve patientcare around the world, we must do so with the utmost caution to protect the privacy of patients.”

The initiative is an important step in unlocking the hidden insights from data sitting in silos in large health systems, said Paddy Padmanabhan, founder and CEO of Damo Consulting, a growth strategy and digital transformation advisory firm.
“Healthcare has been hobbled by the inability to harness available data to improve healthcare outcomes, enhance patient experiences and reduce health inequities," he said.
Truveta's success will depend on execution, he added.

“Where will the data be hosted? How will Truveta build the advanced analytics and AI capabilities required to turn the vision to reality?" he said. “Truveta is a welcome new approach to industry-level collaboration for turning data into insights. However, the fact is that it is a collaborative effort among health systems and the data sets therefore provide only a partial view of patient histories for driving innovations in care management and developing new therapies."

Over the longer term, the industry will need to achieve active collaboration across health plans and life sciences companies as well to unleash innovation in new therapies, drive research and improve healthcare outcomes, Padmanabhan said.