9 June 2021
Datavant 2.0: Connecting the World’s Health Data to Improve Patient Outcomes
3.5 years ago, I founded Datavant to connect the world’s health data to improve patient outcomes. Today, we are announcing the combination of Ciox and Datavant – our biggest step forward to become the neutral, trusted, ubiquitous infrastructure powering the exchange of data across healthcare. This post outlines our vision for the combination and the possibilities we hope to unlock for patients, researchers, and the industry.
The challenge: the fragmentation of health data
Anyone who has ever visited a doctor knows that the health data ecosystem is broken. As a fairly simple patient, there are at least 100 institutions that have some snapshot of my health data: for example, I’ve visited a dozen physicians; I’ve seen a handful of specialists; I’ve had at least 10 different insurers; I’ve received genetic testing; I’ve received prescriptions and vaccines from dozens of pharmacies. Today, nobody in healthcare has a holistic view of the patient’s journey across these touchpoints – not the patient, not the patient’s doctor, and certainly not researchers and the analytics community.
This is a hard problem to solve: there are tens of thousands of institutions in the US that hold patient data, and they each have different incentives and challenges involved in exchanging data. There is an immense amount of friction involved in the exchange of data:
- Privacy & security friction (when is it safe for data to be exchanged?)
- Regulatory & legal friction (when is it acceptable for data to be exchanged?)
- Technical friction (how easy is the technical flow of data?)
- Commercial friction (aligning incentives)
- Guaranteeing patient benefit
Despite the challenges, this is a problem that must be solved, and in fact is one of the biggest opportunities to improve healthcare. When founding Datavant, as an outsider to the healthcare industry, I took a step back and asked the question “given all the advancement in technology and data of the last 30 years, why haven’t patient outcomes improved (and why hasn’t technology changed healthcare the way every other industry has changed over the last few decades)?”
I believe that the answer is that the data is too fragmented. It is simply too difficult to answer as basic a question as “what percentage of patients who were treated with X medication are still alive 5 years later” or “is X drug safe during pregnancy.” If we can’t answer the basic questions due to data fragmentation, we certainly aren’t at a stage of development where AI and advanced analytics can transform the industry.
If we can solve the health data fragmentation challenge, we can unlock a health data economy over the next decade that uses health data to solve the following types of questions while empowering the patient and their providers with the information they need to direct their care:
- Which drugs are safe and effective? Are there sub-populations that they are especially effective for, or sub-populations where they aren’t safe? Are there long-term side effects?
- What treatment is right for a particular patient?
- Which doctors are most effective?
- How can reimbursement by payers tie to value (i.e. the effectiveness of a doctor or a drug)?
- What are secondary uses where existing drugs have impact?
- How do public health interventions impact population health?
- What is the epidemiology of new diseases?
- And many others…
We are building the middleware for the health data economy
To unlock this data economy, Datavant will focus exclusively on removing friction from the exchange of data: we are not in the business of monetizing data, and we are not an analytics company. Instead, we will power thousands of data businesses and analytics companies that benefit from a connected data ecosystem.
The last decade has seen the rise of middleware companies across a number of industries that help make interoperability across applications seamless. To build this for the healthcare industry, there are four traits we must have:
- Neutral. To connect all health data, we must be a neutral party in the ecosystem – meaning we don’t monetize data, we don’t perform analytics, and we don’t have favorite partners – instead, we are a neutral utility to unlock data liquidity for everyone.
- Ubiquitous. To be a utility across the industry, scale matters. Every institution that holds or uses health data must be in our ecosystem.
- Trusted. We must be best-in-class in privacy, security, and patient-centricity, so that we are a trusted currency throughout the ecosystem.
- Friction-eliminating. Our job is to reduce as much of the friction (technical, regulatory, privacy, and commercial frictions) as possible when institutions want to connect data.
The most successful middleware company in history is VISA. VISA is embedded in the majority of transactions, but it is not the front-end of any transactions and doesn’t actually have relationships with consumers. Its ubiquity removes a point of friction for every merchant, and for every consumer. As a result, it powers a huge percentage of commerce, and makes money by taking a small fee on every transaction.
We aim to parallel the VISA model: powering an ecosystem of thousands of companies around us, and creating the foundational middleware powering the health data economy.
Datavant 1.0 & Ciox 1.0
In 3.5 years, I am extremely proud of what Datavant has built: we power the largest de-identified data ecosystem in healthcare; we support data connectivity for hundreds of providers, payers, health analytics companies, life sciences companies, and government institutions exchanging data; and we’ve built an incredible team and culture that is the foundation for us to solve data fragmentation over the next several decades.
Fundamentally, we have come at the data fragmentation challenge from the de-identified data exchange perspective: making it safe and easy to exchange data in de-identified contexts for analytical purposes.
Enter Ciox. Ciox has been solving the identified data challenge: for a given patient, pulling all the medical records across institutions that the patient has visited. Historically, this has been a manual process, requiring deep last-mile relationships with providers and payers to get access to all the data. Ciox is the leader in this business, and manages billions of health data transactions a year on behalf of patients, providers, health systems and payers. Ciox technology and staff power all medical record access on behalf of 40% of health systems, and can access patient records for 100% of health systems as needed.
Together, our technology gives us deep relationships with the largest ecosystem of healthcare institutions in the United States. The combination of these two businesses unlocks the ability of all stakeholders to securely and privately exchange health data: powering patients, researchers, patient registries, public health agencies, clinical trial sponsors, life sciences companies, payers, providers, health analytics companies, and patient-facing apps.
We could finally give the health industry the data density it has lacked to power true transformation, and we can create the technology to ultimately make data access and exchange a safe, one-click process by patients and their healthcare institutions.
The time has come for a renaissance of data in healthcare. As we succeed in reducing the friction for data exchange, we will power thousands of companies in our ecosystem to build solutions that transform disease research, reimagine public health disease surveillance, improve clinical trials, and unlock personalized medicine.
We are on a quest to connect the world’s healthcare data. It is the biggest data problem of our generation and an opportunity to save lives. We look forward to unlocking a data-driven future of healthcare.
PS — if this resonates with you, we’re hiring! Visit us at www.datavant.com.