“We’re swinging for the fences here.”
For our Truvetan spotlight series, we spoke to Jeremy Gordon, Senior Director of Partner Management who also serves as liaison for the Data Integration Committee on our Board of Governors.
Jeremy and his team play a critical role in working with each of our health system members to provide clinical patient data — that we then de-identify, normalize, and make available for clinical research — daily. From planning the data ingestion with new members to ongoing bi-directional conversations with existing health systems about data quality, Jeremy’s team works closely with each Truveta health system member to ensure Truveta provides the most complete, timely, highest-quality U.S. health data.
Just this week, we announced four new Truveta health system members: WellSpan Health, Centura Health, MetroHealth, and Virtua Health. So, we sat down with him to learn more about him and what he loves most about his role.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I wanted to be a sports doctor. I followed sports growing up like most kids and my dad was a doctor, so I thought that would be a job that seemed fun. I imagined myself helping professional athletes on the sidelines or in the dugout. One summer, I shadowed an orthopedic surgeon in the hospital. I scrubbed into a knee surgery and my only job was to stand back and not get in the way. As soon as they made the first incisions in the patient’s knee, seeing the bone and the cartilage and the blood did me in. I sat on the floor for the next 30 minutes and then left the room and that was the end of that.
My other dream job was to be a diplomat. A high school teacher recommended that I take international relations and I got hooked. I ended up going to grad school for international affairs and public policy and always thought I would have a career in the foreign service. But I ended up in consulting, then found my way to healthcare. After a few years I appreciated the purpose and impact of the projects I was leading and so made the decision to stay in healthcare.
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
I would say something like, don’t take anything for granted. It’s hard to hear that when you feel invincible. I was fortunate to grow up with opportunities that are not available to all, and that realization is something that influences my world view today — the need to help make our communities better and create more equitable places is part of the value system that my wife and I teach our two sons. Of course, I don’t think my younger self would appreciate that perspective.
How did you get to Truveta? What’s your role here?
My early career in consulting was in DC and with changes in political administrations you can pour your heart into work that just ends up on a shelf. I stayed in consulting when I moved to Seattle 10 years ago and started working with mostly healthcare clients because of the local economy. The impact that you have is tangible so I decided to stay where I could have an impact. A few years ago, I made the conscious decision to leave consulting to really make a professional investment in one company instead of going project to project. In my search I found Truveta. It fit so many of my interests: mission-driven, healthcare, working with data, health systems, building connections between teams. So far there’s been no looking back.
I lead the team that has two main responsibilities: bringing in data from our members, and technical integration with our partners — customers and health systems.
Like all things startup we created a lot of our processes from scratch. I thought a lot about the patterns in the ways that we were interacting with health systems — every health system has nuances and complexities that you don’t find elsewhere. We went back to the drawing board and mapped out, what do we want to get out of our partnerships, what are our goals, and how do we go about achieving those goals. There is a way that they consistently communicated what they needed and so those patterns sort of evolved into our approach. Once we had that piece in place, we needed to be consistent with them going forward: how do we ask for data, how do we communicate their royalties, how do we support them, how do we talk about what we need from them.
What is the most rewarding part of your role? What does Truveta’s vision mean to you?
There’s the internal piece with my team, working with great people and having the opportunity to both lead and support them. I want to make sure they’re doing meaningful work that they enjoy. I get gratification from all of those things, and knowing the impact of their work on Truveta is real for what we do as a business. The other piece is being able to talk to health systems about the data we need. We now have millions of patients normalized in the platform for research. And it’s pretty incredible to see that play out. I had a conversation recently with one of our earliest members and we really talked about the impact of their data. They were so early that they really hadn’t had that context. We took an intentional pause to share, “Let’s talk about the big picture of the impact that you’re making,” and they were totally blown away. Teams are so heads down and focused on the tactical work and solving for all the technical issues that the “why” of what we are doing together often gets lost. Their data was in the COVID dashboard, and it translated into how manufacturers view their products being effective, or approved for broader use, so that was really cool, that was a good day.
And the company’s vision is bold. We’re swinging for the fences here with something that’s brand new, that I believe will change the way that people live. I think the company’s evolution has made this all real for me and for a lot of our members, too.
How has the pandemic changed the way you work?
It’s shifted the paradigm for how work is accomplished, and I feel many jobs are more demanding now, by expecting workers to do more with less. Personally, I’ve had to learn to work more efficiently, especially with two young kids at home. The things that we took for granted with our workspaces — being able to swing by someone’s desk — now need to be figured out. There are quirky work cultures around how we interact remotely, and I think it’s changed the dynamic of how people work together. At the same time, I also appreciate the extra time not commuting, I think that’s tremendous.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received, or could give?
I’ve had a number of great mentors and they have all emphasized that people make things happen. We all have goals in our jobs and most of those depend on other people. The importance of those relationships is what enables trust and what builds successful teams. Taking that for granted is very risky and I think we have a choice in how we foster and influence those interactions. I enjoy that aspect of my job, being able to talk to a lot of different people and have a lot of different kinds of relationships at different levels.