Henry Ford Health, Trinity join in startup aimed at pooling, mining health system data

Henry Ford Health, Trinity join in startup aimed at pooling, mining health system data

Local health systems have joined a national effort to create a startup that aims to make better use of hospital data.

Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System and Novi-based Trinity Health are both partners in the joint venture, known as Truveta, which aims to make use of the mountains of data generated by hospitals and use it to improve care.

Tenet Health, parent company of the Detroit Medical Center, is also one of the 14 health systems nationally involved in the effort.

The health systems said in a press release that Truveta will aim to build an anonymized data set that can be used for research purposes and as a way of sharing insights across the partner health systems.

The partners say the Truveta platform will use artificial intelligence and machine learning to perform analysis of the aggregated medical data.

To be based in Seattle, Truveta is led by former Microsoft Corp. executive Terry Myerson, who ran the software maker’s Windows business. It will combine records representing about 13% of U.S. hospitals, which will be anonymized to protect confidentiality, said Rod Hochman, Providence chief executive officer and chair-elect of the American Hospital Association. The venture, which is co-owned by the participating hospital systems, also includes Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health, Bon Secours Mercy Health and New York’s Northwell Health.

The goal is to let Truveta backers, as well as researchers at other institutions and in government, run analyses and use machine learning to draw conclusions from the massive volume of data the systems generate. Often researchers at each institution face a shortage of examples within their own data sets when looking for patterns, particularly for rarer conditions or specific types of cancer, or trials on drugs and therapies don’t include enough participants from minority groups who may have different outcomes. The challenge has become particularly clear during the Covid-19 pandemic, Hochman said.

“Nothing has pointed it out more than the pandemic that we have now,” he said. “The dearth of data is just making trying to do health care miserable.”

Truveta plans to make money from selling access to this data. Projects will have to meet ethical guidelines determined by a committee of doctors, scientists and patients the company plans to set up — even with patients’ names removed from the data, ethical questions will be thorny.

“We believe the cure for certain diseases could lie within the Truveta platform,” said Michael Slubowski, CEO of Trinity Health. “For the first time in the history of health, we have enough data at scale to dramatically advance innovation in healthcare with collective commitment to partner on ethical innovation.”

The health systems said in a press release that they believe a partnership of this kind could have allowed health systems to discover and share treatment insights for COVID-19 more rapidly.

“Our mission is to improve ALL people’s lives through excellence in the science and art of health care,” said Wright Lassiter III, President and CEO of Henry Ford Health System. “Truveta can uniquely provide the data and insights that will empower us to deliver equitable care with respect and compassion, which are the fundamental rights of those we serve.”

Some patients may be concerned about their information being used in this way. Other medical data aggregators are already trying to profit from health data, and de-identified data derived from patients is routinely bought and sold without most people ever realizing it. Once names, addresses and other identifiable characteristics are stripped out, the information is free from patient privacy rules and can be used freely.

Myerson said that as Truveta ramps up, providers will add notifications about what it collects to the health information forms that patients sign advising them of their rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which governs health-care privacy practices in the U.S. “Part of the goal is helping people understand the greater good and what this can do for them as a patient and improve their care,” he said.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

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