Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ad-Tech Entrepreneurs Build Cancer Database

Flatiron Health Is Sharing Its Information About 550,000 Cases With Doctors, Medical Facilities

Most treatments for cancer are based on protocols developed from clinical trials. Outcome reporting can lag for a while until papers are published. Flatiron gathers data that weren't previously available and shareable, the 96% of cases where the patient didn't participate in a clinical trial.
Revenue comes to two-year-old Flatiron from charging cancer centers for access to its database and by joining with life-science companies on their research. The centers contribute specific information about actual cases, with patient names taken off. This includes the course of treatment prescribed, and the outcome. Every cancer center has lots of such information: If they contribute theirs, they get access to the whole Flatiron database, and their doctors can see a much wider data set as they prescribe courses of treatment.

Today, Flatiron Health has 105 employees, and half of those are engineers. More than 200 cancer centers in the U.S. either use or are testing its database, which holds information about more than 550,000 cancer cases. This spring, it received Google Ventures' largest-ever investment in a medical-software company, $130 million. Mr. Turner, age 28, recently spoke to The Wall Street Journal about his struggles so far to build the business, which he expects to break even within a few years. Edited excerpts:

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