San Francisco's Verana Health, a health-data startup, raised $100 million from investors, such as GV (Google) and Bain Capital. The plentiful interest in Verana signals the interest in new data-driven ways to treat disease.
Verana works with two medical associations for its process of analyzing large amounts of data on eye disease and neurology — all the data is anonymous. The information it goes through can help with the development of drugs and new medical devices, the company said, which can happen faster with Verana's input.
Furthermore, Verana works with doctors and pharmaceutical firms during research trials, adding new data. It also wants to expand into the fields of genomic, imaging and claims data.
CEO Miki Kapoor described data as a way to create a clearer view of human health. He said Verana only exists because of the wide gulf of inefficiencies in the U.S. healthcare system that have been created over decades.
The healthcare industry is in the midst of a data boom. Pharmaceutical firms believe that the large amounts of data they are amassing will lead to better results in healthcare overall, and that it can help with testing drugs and treating rare diseases in patients.
As is the custom with medical issues and technology, patient privacy has been a concern. By partnering with medical societies, Verana has access to a large amount of clinical databases, albeit without names. Those societies — such as the American Academy of Neurology's Axon Registry, which has 2.3 million patients — have seats on Verana's board.
Verana also partners with the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s IRIS Registry, which covers 70 percent t0 80 percent of all ophthalmology patient data in the U.S., according to CEO David Parke of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. However, Parke said patient privacy is one of the top concerns, and data is stripped of any possible patient identifiers.