Editor’s Note: This post has been updated since first published in July 2021.
Truveta began as an idea within Providence and they have played a crucial leadership role in our formation. As one of our 20 health provider members, we are thrilled to continue to work with the Providence team each day as we are building Truveta. We are honored to have this Q&A with Rod Hochman, the President and CEO of Providence.
How did the idea for Truveta come about and what led to it being created, formed and governed by the health systems?
We knew we could advance patient care through data. But unfortunately, the data was fragmented and largely inaccessible. A huge obstacle in information in healthcare is who governs it. A number of us on the provider side have always felt that patients and the community trust their providers to be the stewards of their data. So, we came up with the concept to create Truveta because we believed that patient data was best served by the provider organizations and health systems across this country. And by putting all this data together, we would uniquely be able to serve the health of the people in the United States.
Can you provide an example or scenario where this would make a difference?
The importance of putting data together enables us to look at different populations. One of the problems that we’ve seen with a lot of data collection is that it’s just one region or one group of patients. But by having a nationwide data system, that includes diversity, it really helps get to discovery faster. We have to ensure that the database has a variety of different ethnicities, people of color, people of different regions that can make a real difference in our ability to discover the issues that are there. One of the issues, for example, is how we treat breast cancer. By really understanding regional variation, variations amongst different types of patients, we can really understand what the optimal treatments are. We have thought that we’re giving optimal treatment, but often times the data doesn’t lie. And the data can be a window into what is actually happening in how we’re treating patients.
Why do you think the world needs Truveta?
The world needs Truveta because information is key to solving healthcare problems. We’ve discovered this through COVID-19. When we were all able to work together, putting our data together, we discovered that we could come up with treatments and discovery a lot faster. Why don’t we do that for all of the problems that we have? And is there a way to solve some of the daunting health problems, such as health equity and diseases, that by putting our data together, we’ll understand how these work?
How do you think Truveta could help enable precision medicine?
We’ve heard a lot about precision medicine. It’s how we look at specific treatments for each individual person. The way I look at Truveta is that by putting the data together, literally millions of patients together, with all the depth of data, we can discover quickly what are the things that, for each individual, can make a difference in their care, and also be able to find what specific treatment might work for me, given my genome and my data versus someone else. This can only be done with a large database such as Truveta.
How might have COVID treatment, for example, looked if Truveta had existed?
A lot of us have speculated what would have been different if we had Truveta before the pandemic. The reality is we will probably have another global coronavirus in the future. With Truveta, we would immediately be able to know where people are getting sick, what symptoms are they experiencing and what the correlating laboratory tests are. Can you imagine, on a real-time basis, looking across the breadth of the United States, where we could correlate the lab testing with the symptoms early on? We would learn so much about what to prevent and what we need to do. And then more importantly, what treatments are working and what treatments are not working? This is really banking for the future, that the future health of the country is really going to be based on having a Truveta available that will enable us to treat earlier, get to the best treatments faster, and save lives through data.
How would you describe what Truveta could make possible for healthcare?
When I explain to people why so much data really matters I like to share the Hubble telescope example. The Hubble telescope gave us a view of the galaxies and enabled us to see things that we couldn’t see with just a small telescope sitting on the ground. What Truveta does with this massive dataset will enable us to see those galaxies. They’ll see those patterns that will enable us to revolutionize the way we care for patients and what we didn’t see before. Because those patterns, if I’m looking at a small number of stars or patients, all of a sudden become really clear when I can have it all together. That’s the beauty of the proverbial Hubble telescope that Truveta can be for us in healthcare.
What has been surprising to you about the company?
Most surprising has been the rapid progress. Not only has the team grown to more than 160 individuals, including world-class technologists and clinical informaticists, but they have also made exciting strides with the technology. The work is impressive and the team is making rapid progress to real insights using real world data in real time. I’m so proud of our collective teams and the work we’re doing together. I can’t wait for more people to see our progress.