14 health systems team up on 'ethical innovation' with launch of provider-led data platform

Fourteen health systems, including Trinity Health, Northwell Health and Tenet Health, are partnering to create a comprehensive, de-identified data platform that will glean more robust insights on medical conditions such as rare diseases and COVID-19.

The new platform, dubbed Truveta, will serve as a universal database of patient population information pooled from the participating health systems, according to a Feb. 11 announcement. The de-identified clinical data will span across all diagnoses, geographies and demographics to provide physicians and researchers with stronger analyses of medical conditions, treatment therapies and prognoses.

"For the first time in history, we're going to have data at scale to dramatically advance innovation in healthcare," Trinity Health CEO Michael Slubowski said in an interview with Becker's. "Our health systems participating in Truveta cover well over 10 percent of the U.S. population; this is really the first time that health systems have come together in this way to collaborate on a common mission, which is about saving lives."

Truveta will help healthcare professionals more quickly respond to health issues by generating a larger database of knowledge on topics such as COVID-19. Had a solution like it existed last year at the start of the pandemic, researchers likely would have been able to more quickly discover insights like which medications were most effective against the virus and what demographic groups have higher infection and mortality rates, Mr. Slubowski said.

"We really scrambled in that first wave of COVID-19 to try to figure out what worked – we think researchers could've shaved months off the vaccine process," he said. "Helping us through pandemics is just one example of how Truveta could've helped us. Ultimately the challenges come down to having this kind of dataset versus all the little siloes of data that we have right now. We know that the answers to the most complex carrot are in pooling this data and being able to use it for research and for improving clinical care."

Truveta is placing a strong emphasis on data privacy, ethics and security. The company will be advised by a board of governors and diverse set of healthcare providers who will provide strategic, scientific and operational advice on areas including ethics and health equity, data integrity and clinical outcomes.

"The term 'ethical research' or 'ethical innovation' is quite meaningful, because our goal is to make this data available to everyone who wants to do ethical research," Truveta CEO Terry Myerson said. "That could be a student, a life sciences firm looking to staff a clinical trial faster and with more representative populations, etc., but all guided by the ethics of Trinity, Providence, Northwell and all these organizations that have come together to ensure this data is being used for good."

A former engineer at Microsoft for two decades, Mr. Myerson is leading a team of data scientists alongside the 14 participating health systems to build the Truveta platform. Clinical data pulled from the organizations' sources like EHRs will be structured and de-identified to preserve patients' privacy.

"I've worked on software platforms that are used by over a billion people around the globe, but I feel like with Truveta I'm going to be developing something that has an even bigger effect on the world," Mr. Myerson said.

Truveta's founding health systems care for tens of millions of patients and comprise thousands of care facilities across 40 states. Here are the 14 organizations leading the project:

  •       AdventHealth (Altamonte Springs, Fla.)
  •       Advocate Aurora Health (Milwaukee)
  •       Baptist Health of Northeast Florida (Jacksonville)
  •       Bon Secours Mercy Health (Cincinnati)
  •       CommonSpirit Health (Chicago)
  •       Hawaii Pacific Health (Honolulu)
  •       Henry Ford Health System (Detroit)
  •       Memorial Hermann Health System (Houston)
  •       Northwell Health (New Hyde Park, N.Y.)
  •       Novant Health (Charlotte, N.C.)
  •       Providence (Renton, Wash.)
  •       Sentara Healthcare (Norfolk, Va.)
  •       Tenet Health (Dallas)
  •       Trinity Health (Livonia, Mich.)

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