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Verana Health: Accelerating Healthcare Innovation with Real World Evidence

Author: Miki Kapoor
February 2020
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Almost two decades ago, specialty medical associations began launching clinical data registries to help their physician members improve medical care delivery while also addressing a very specific need: quality reporting to the federal government under MACRA and other value-based healthcare initiatives.

Over the last several years, medical associations began observing that these registries could also transform the way real-world clinical data can be used by the medical community beyond enabling quality reporting by physicians. As real-world data (namely electronic health record data) began to be directly incorporated into clinical data registries as the primary data source, new opportunities were created to advance the missions of specialty medical associations as they strive to help their physician members and the patients they care for in their medical practices. 

Two years ago, Verana Health was founded by a group of forward-looking collaborators, including several physicians, to fully realize the vision and impact of these clinical data registries. Our launch was in partnership with major medical societies and experienced physician thought leaders. Today, we are proud to be the data partner for the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) IRIS® Registry (Intelligent Research in Sight), and the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Axon Registry®, operated by some of the largest physician organizations in the United States. 

Our society partners have entrusted us with their data to partner with them to advance the quality of patient care and to accelerate the adoption of evidence into practice. Through these partnerships, Verana supports the full operating costs for these registries, which enable physicians to track performance against federal quality measures and submit information for quality reporting at no expense to the physician practices and medical specialty organizations. 

Additionally, we’ve developed applications that enable physicians to derive unique insights and observations from the electronic health record data they are generating from their practices. Verana Practice Insights provides physicians with a de-identified aggregated view on physician practice trends across the United States. Verana Trial Connect helps physicians surface patients from their practice who may be eligible for a clinical trial in which their practice is participating. As these applications demonstrate, we are, at our core, a provider-focused organization with a mission to enable the physician-patient relationship and to facilitate the delivery of high-quality, evidence-based medical care across medical specialties. 

We’ve also learned that the insights from these large and impactful databases can demonstrate added value not only for providers, but also for the entire healthcare ecosystem, including researchers and innovators who are trying to develop medical products and better characterize and delineate the most effective treatments that address unmet needs in contemporary medical care. As we focus on organizing and analyzing the most comprehensive real-world clinical data sets in medicine, we are harnessing data for purpose and partnering with all stakeholders to transform clinical care delivery and clinical research. 

For example, through the Axon Registry, we want to be able to research trends in progression and track the impact of specific treatments over time for conditions such as multiple sclerosis, migraine and epilepsy. We aim to improve treatments and discover cures for the one in six people affected by neurologic disease. This drives us daily. 

Members of the Verana team have worked in every part of the healthcare system. We have employees who have worked in healthcare delivery as medical providers, as healthcare administrators in hospitals and health systems, and in public health, domestically and abroad. For example, I spent two years working with the Clinton Foundation in India and Africa, leading a team of healthcare providers and professionals to deliver care to underserved patient populations with little to no medical care options. This was my first experience on the front lines of healthcare, and I came out of it energized and committed to the critical principle that healthcare is a universal human right, and that patients are urgently waiting for care options that meet their needs. 

I believe that to truly accelerate the pace of medical innovation, we must drill down into real-world data by breaking down traditionally siloed information and reassembling it in a way that provides a complete view of human health. The first era of digital health, leading up to the HITECH Act in 2009, created siloed systems primarily to expedite healthcare financial reimbursement rather than to facilitate scientific discoveries and improvements in patient care. Inadvertently, a system was developed where electronic health record data, administrative claims data, genomic data, imaging data, and patient-derived data were locked in different electronic data repositories and not connected at the individual patient level or at the medical practice level. 

Now, we finally have the opportunity to put these pieces back together to uncover new understandings of disease and treatment patterns. With the high-quality real-world data generated from the partnership between Verana Health and its medical society partners, we can accelerate innovation in medicine and empower physicians to provide patients with better treatments and medical care solutions. We are de-siloing healthcare data to assemble a more complete, more robust, and more in-depth picture of human health.   

Today, we are excited to announce two significant milestones that will enable us to truly realize the potential of real-world data in healthcare.

First, we have acquired the technology assets and team behind PYA Analytics (PYAA). Based in Knoxville, Tennessee, PYAA is an incredible data analytics company founded by scientists from the prestigious Oak Ridge National Laboratory. We intend to leverage the PYAA team’s capabilities to integrate imaging, genomic, and claims data sources into the existing data platform and link these data with the EHR data currently in the registries.

Second, we are announcing today the close of a $100 million investment led by GV, formerly Google Ventures. New investors, including Bain Capital Ventures, Casdin Capital, and Define Ventures, participated in the round, along with existing investors —  which include some of the most respected names in the healthcare and biotech space. With these additional resources, we are well-positioned to grow our team and capabilities to achieve our mission.

So what does all this mean? Bringing in PYAA and this additional capital will significantly expand our team’s resources, and better enable us to pursue our goal: To improve the lives of patients by accelerating medical innovation across multiple disease categories.

Nature Medicine recently cited Verana in an article on disruptive healthcare data companies. In the piece, “15 ways Silicon Valley is Harnessing Big Data for Health,Nature Medicine noted that Verana’s analyses of large specialty patient databases may hold the key to accelerating medical innovation by facilitating physician and patient awareness of clinical trial opportunities. This is just one of many applications of our data analytic capabilities. 

The entire U.S. healthcare system is going through exhilarating changes, and Verana Health will play an important role in significantly shortening the time it takes for life-changing medical products to make their way to the patients who need them. Our approach will benefit physicians, researchers, life science innovators, regulatory agencies—and our top stakeholders, patients. We expect 2020 to be an impactful and exciting year for Verana Health and we look forward to sharing more about our work in future posts.

About the Author

Miki Kapoor is President and Chief Executive Officer of Verana Health.