A Conversation with Jono Luk: His Personal Crusade to Take the Luck Out of Inequity by Giving Back - Truveta

A Conversation with Jono Luk: His Personal Crusade to Take the Luck Out of Inequity by Giving Back

What is your role at Truveta?

I’m vice president of product management. I’m responsible for building the Truveta platform with a focus on four key areas: the data ingestion into the platform, data modeling, security and compliance, and how researchers will use Truveta and the de-identified data. Truveta is enabling research on a big set of de-identified data representing millions of patients. To make that happen we have to get data into the platform, and make it look consistent so people can ask research questions. That’s the normalization process. At the same time, we must protect patient privacy. We cannot know this is the Jono patient versus another patient. So patient privacy is critical. And then making sure only the right people can ask the questions at the right time. Eventually, we want people to do all kinds of statistical analysis and advanced use cases. In my role, I’m looking after all these areas as we build the platform.

What does Truveta’s vision Saving Lives with Data mean to you?

It means a couple of things to me: both personally and for society. There is literally exabytes of data that tells a story, but no one knows what to do with this data. It’s broken up and siloed. It’s represented differently and the worst part is it’s not at the fingertips of the people who need it to answer medical questions to benefit patients. I have a personal story why this matters. Both of my parents are cancer survivors. They immigrated from Hong Kong in the 70s. There are not enough patients like them to be able to project a trend; to show what works or doesn’t work for treatment. To be able to project trends and look at a population, maybe as it pertains to socio economic background or other demographics. All those things are locked up in pockets. Data could unlock the potential to care for patients better. Our goal is to bring data together so any researcher could ask questions and get answers to save lives. What motivates me the most is that no child should have to hear that their parent has cancer and there’s just not enough data for the doctor to know what to do. That is the reason why I was sold on Truveta.

What has been your journey to get to Truveta?

I’ve always been in technology. One of the disconnects for me was that a lot of good people are doing a lot of good stuff, but it wasn’t making a difference in the lives of people most and in a way I cared about. At Microsoft, I worked on a variety of interesting projects from identity, security, data and business apps, but I wasn’t having the impact I wanted on people’s lives. When I got the chance to work at Cisco driving the healthcare strategy for Webex, it was applying tech to healthcare on the patient care delivery side via telehealth. This was a front door to helping patients throughout the start of the pandemic. My time there gave me an appreciation for how much room there is to make it better for healthcare IT, but also gave me awareness for how underserved some populations are. Giving back is so important to me.

What does giving back look like to you?

I have always considered people as a function of luck if you will. Luck of where they are born; the opportunities afforded to them; and ultimately access to resources – financial or social. It’s been a mission for me to give back. I do this through sitting on the board of two non-profits in Seattle: Therapeutic Health Services and iUrban Teen. I’m on a crusade to persuade people who “have” to help people who don’t. That’s a personal journey for me. Working at Truveta gives me another way to give back by building something that truly could make a difference in people’s lives. So when I saw the opportunity at Truveta, I completely fell off my chair: “this is it, this is it!” The intersection of data, security, technology, and making a difference.

What surprises your friends or family when you talk about Truveta?

What’s surprising is that most people are surprised this hasn’t been done before. If you dive deeper into this, people hear so much about healthcare data, either because of hacks that have happened, or they associate what has been done with claims data or operational spend analysis, not outcome analysis. Truveta’s approach to clinical data hasn’t been done before.

What do you think the barriers are to Truveta achieving its vision?

These are novel problems that are hard to solve. Doing the right thing is expensive, hard, and involves a lot of heavy lifting. I believe we will get there. We have a lot of smart, mission-driven people committed to doing the right thing for the right reasons. Many others in this space have deep pockets and different motivations. The mission-driven nature of Truveta and its partners doing this for the benefit of patients and to advance care is why I think we’ll be successful and earn trust. If someday, we could measure lives saved or lives improved through Truveta insights, that would be the best measure of success.