St. Louis startup turns patient data into research with Washington U, BJC | Local company


ST. LOUIS — Some of the region’s biggest healthcare providers are turning to an emerging St. Louis-based company for the next step in medical research.

The University of Washington and BJC HealthCare on Tuesday announced a partnership with CuriMeta, a small, growing local company with a seemingly simple proposition: take anonymized patient data from institutions and research treatment and prevention models that have proven the most effective.

Especially since the 2009 stimulus bill, which provided billions of dollars in incentives for healthcare providers to switch from paper to electronic records, healthcare providers have accumulated a “massive body of data.” , said Davis Walp, CEO of CuriMeta.

“We are at a point now where we can tap into this massive history of electronic data. We can do it in an ethical and compliant way. And we can use it to really speed up healings,” Walp said.

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It’s part of a growing trend in the industry. In recent years, local researchers have used electronic health records at veterans’ facilities to study COVID-19 patient outcomes, and Chesterfield-based Mercy Health System announced in late July that it was also building a system to improve care by analyzing past medical records. .

Using VA records, University of Washington researchers found evidence of increased risks for mental health disorders and higher rates of opioid prescribing in patients who had recently recovered from COVID-19 .

Mercy is still building its program, in partnership with the Mayo Clinic, but executives believe it will give doctors access to a wealth of information about patients with specific conditions that doctors will only encounter a few times in their career. And they hope the research will provide patients with better access to specialized medical expertise, whether they live in a large metropolitan area or a small rural community.

CuriMeta began developing its business plan in early 2020, Walp said. Although it works closely with the University of Washington and BJC, it remains a separate entity. It has a physical space in the Cortex Innovation community and a small but growing team.

Through its partnership with CuriMeta, the University of Washington said it plans to do research on cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases and other neurological conditions, rare diseases and childhood diseases.

For example, researchers could study drug outcomes in cancer patients who also have heart disease or diabetes and who may have been excluded from clinical trials because of these other health conditions, a said Philip Payne, director of the Institute of Computer Science and chief data scientist at Washington University School of Medicine.

Payne emphasized that organizations are focused on maintaining patient confidentiality: “At no time will we release personally identifiable data beyond our institution,” he said.

“We put all of this data into a database and only use a fraction of it,” Payne said. “Meanwhile, we have all of these huge, pressing issues – whether it’s cardiovascular disease, endocrine disease, cancers, neurodegeneration – for which we need better diagnostics and treatments. And the pace of discovery does not follow the request.

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