May 21, 2014

Google Invests $130 Million in Cancer-Fighting Big Data Firm

George Leopold

Flatiron Health, a big data startup specializing in cancer patient data analysis, has attracted a second round of funding from Google Ventures.

Google’s $130-million investment is the search engine giant’s second in Flatiron Health, which also attracted existing investors First Round Capital and Laboratory of America Holdings. The second round investment brings Flatiron’s total funding to $138 million.

Portions of the funding will go toward acquiring electronic medical record (EMR) specialist Altos Solutions. The Altos cancer EMR system, OncoEMR, is a Web-based system used to capture electronic medical records of oncology patients.

The partners said the deal is expected to close by the end of May 2014. Other terms of the Altos deal were not disclosed.

Flatiron said the acquisition will create what it says is the largest collection of structured oncology data. Flatiron said it plans to integrate OncoEMR into its OncologyCloud to improve data capture, data flow and clinical decision-making.

“Bringing smart data capture and patient engagement together with advanced analytics is a powerful combination that can have huge implications for patient care and research,” Flatiron Health co-founder Nat Turner said in a blog post.

The company said the acquisition would combine point-of-care data capture and patient care with advanced data analytics. The goal is to improve cancer center operations along with coordinating and targeting care for cancer patients.

Turner said the Altos acquisition will allow personalized cancer treatment “by enabling the right patient to get the right therapy at the right time.”

The first data analytics application is a Web-based software package designed to integrate a cancer centers data systems. The application will eventually allow health care providers to leverage “de-identified data” from other cancer centers in a way that complies with HIPPA health care regulations.

The Google investment in Flatiron Health also underscores how big data analytics is moving steadily into the healthcare arena. It is reportedly Google’s largest investment so far in medical software. Turner said Andrew Conrad, project manager at Google [x], Google’s “moonshot factory,” is joining the Flatiron board.

The deal combines a major player in big data applications for healthcare with a leading provider of electronic medical records specifically tailored to oncology. The Flatiron software platform is expected to accelerate the personalization of cancer treatment and research by applying advanced analytics to electronic patient care data generated by clinicians.

The goal is to combine disparate patient information like physician’s free-text notes with diagnostic and other information that can be used to target cancer treatment. The platform can also capture isolated data like clinical, practice management, and billing data.

Altos said its products and services complement Flatiron’s OncologyCloud platform with applications for both cancer care providers and life sciences companies.

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