Verana Health, a business specializing in collecting and organizing massive amounts of medical data, revealed on Friday that it had raised $150 million in a Series E fundraising round. While focusing on new kinds of medical data, the firm is also investing in organizing traditionally chaotic forms of information (such physician notes) and attempting to extract more actionable insights from Electronic Health Records (EHRs) (EHRs).
Verana Health organizes and analyzes electronic health record systems operated by three professional organizations: the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Neurology, and the American Urological Association. The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the largest professional organization in the world. After that, it provides information to practitioners, researchers, and corporations in the life sciences industry. CEO Sujay Jadhav says that since the company’s establishment in 2018, Verana has grown to become the only data management partner for these professional networks.
Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Novo Growth were the driving forces behind this latest round. In addition to new investors, existing investors such as GV (previously Google Ventures), Casdin Capital, and Brook Byers also participated in the game. Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, THVC, and Breyer Capital are among the latest investors to join the group.
Verana is now concentrating her efforts on three key illness areas: ophthalmology, neurology, and urology, among others. According to Jadhav, Verana supplies two-pillar goods as a result of this. There’s VeraQ, a “population health engine” with 90 million patients and data spanning seven years, and Qdata, which can link existing data with information from other sources (such as insurance claims or medical imaging, more on that later), as well as provide data sets designed for specific, observational studies. VeraQ is a “population health engine” with 90 million patients and data spanning seven years.
A reasonable inquiry to ask of any organization that claims to give data-driven insights is: What precisely are the wisdom that you are providing? Jadhav presents a few examples.
For example, the business recently collaborated with a start-up interested in researching a rare ailment that was not generally covered by ICD-10 billing codes. Using natural language processing and human curation, Verana scanned through patient symptoms and procedure histories to find clinics that would have a sufficient number of patients with the disease to participate.
An additional customer has utilized Verana to monitor the safety and adoption of medical items once approved. This is on the commercial side. Verana assisted by examining treatment patterns and demographics of those who used the medicine to identify potential safety concerns.
Patients’ privacy must always come first regarding health records, regardless of the situation. According to Jadhav, all patient information has been de-identified. “Within the company, we have an obvious distinction. So 27 individuals have access to identifying data, which we then de-identify, and any information we offer to the pharmaceutical industry, for example, is always de-identified,” he said.
Discriminated health data are already being utilized to perform studies. Studies on the real-world safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccinations, for example, have been completed much more swiftly because of EHR analysis. On the other hand, experts have expressed worry that de-identified data may be “re-identified” via machine learning and the merging of different data sets. For example, a 2018 research published in the journal “JAMA Health Policy” stated that this was doable using data from physical activity.
Patients, according to Jadhav, have the right to refuse data exchange at any time along the process. On the other hand, the easiest way seems to be at the level of the doctor’s office. For example, you may request in writing from your ophthalmologist that they do not share EHR data with IRIS (the data set given by the American Academy of Ophthalmology) if that is what you want.
The majority of Verana’s data is now derived from these patient registries, which is not surprising. Although additional information may be gleaned from these records, the corporation is currently putting resources towards integrating other sorts of data.
The company Verana, for example, is using natural language processing methods to extract themes from physician notes that don’t fit into the traditional data formats. (Keep in mind that de-identification of textual data in EHR records is a topic that is currently under investigation.) However, Jadhav points out that these physician notes are a significant untapped resource in some illness areas, such as:
The presence of structured data in specific therapeutic areas, such as urology, has been discovered, says the researcher. [However,] unstructured data has a significant amount of value. “I’m talking about medical notes, particularly.”
In addition, the organization has integrated insurance claims data and created a mechanism for incorporating imaging data into its systems. A recent abstract released by IRIS outlined the development of a matching algorithm that could match IRIS EHRs and imaging data with an 83 percent degree of accuracy.
According to Jadhav, the new round of funding would be used to “fuel current growth” within the company’s current business strategy. However, it has also spelled out some concrete goals for the future. The company’s goals are to improve the quality of analysis they can now deliver, scale-up clinical trial findings, and finance natural language processing initiatives in the future.
The entire amount of money raised by the firm now stands at $280 million.