While Travis May was running LiveRamp, which he describes as a kind of escrow service for multi-sourced marketing data that became popular with a wide swath of the Fortune 500, he had plenty of time to think about the ways data could change the world. Then he sold the company for more than $300 million, and now he’s using what he learned about data integration from multiple sources — along with some of the cash he made — to push the upstart Datavant into what he hopes will be a leading role in the remaking of healthcare.
With substantial backing from the Big Daddy of all ‘vants, 32-year-old Vivek Ramaswamy, May just joined in a $40.5 million round that is financing the company as it nabs Universal Patient Key, described as “the leading provider of HIPAA-compliant de-identification services for healthcare data.”
“Our goal ,” 30-year-old May says, “is to de-silo different data sets across healthcare.”
UPK, May tells me, provides the key he needs to bring together de-identified data from multiple sources, doing it in such a way that you can gain a more complete profile into the health and genetics of one anonymous individual, but with scale. Before now, you could get great batches of data from a hospital system, or lab data, or genomics data, but have a hard time aggregating them in a compliant fashion that allowed you to assemble the different data point on one person.
If you do that and multiply it by millions, looking around the world, there are a lot of possibilities on what you can learn. And UPK’s client list includes Allscripts, McKesson, Decision Resources Group, Optum, IBM Watson (Truven Health), Komodo Health, Prognos, Precision Health, et al.
May isn’t shy about voicing his desire to achieve something transformational.
UPK, he says, will bring it all together into a cohesive, and searchable, database. And now, instead of focusing on marketing data, he’s catering to clients who want to aggregate a multitude of better data so they can shine a light on, say, drug development as they examine what happens to one person, over time and meds and what a torrent of that data can tell you about a disease.
May and his backers at Roivant are staying mum about the cost of buying UPK, but he’s not trying to make it sound like a light-switch deal: I bought a switch and now all I need to do is flip it up and everything is done. He’s careful to say that his goal is still an aspirational one, involving years of work in feeding more and more data through the tech and analyzing the information. On the other hand, May and his staff of 20 have clients and earn money, and he expects that to grow with time.
Image: Travis May. DATAVANT
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