Sunny Grewal ’13 launched OMNY in 2017 as a way to build a bridge between healthcare systems, which collect millions of data points, and pharmaceutical and life-sciences companies, which need this data to continue innovating. The companies have to know what types of medical specialists are prescribing their drugs and to what cohorts of patients. How often and for what conditions? Healthcare systems and hospitals, which have vast amounts of this data, often welcome the opportunity to leverage it as a revenue source—provided they can share it without compromising patient privacy. OMNY brokers this exchange, reducing what Grewal calls “a massive data bottleneck in healthcare.” The need for pharmaceutical innovation is growing ever more crucial as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, and Grewal says since the start of the pandemic, he’s seen increased interest among life-sciences companies eager to know how their medications are being used. Below, Grewal explains how healthcare systems can open up this revenue stream while helping life sciences companies innovate, and why access to large data sets is the key to innovation.
Keeping Data Secure
We’re a neutral third party through which de-identified data is shared externally. We strip our data of identifiers, then use statistical methods to ensure there’s no HIPAA data on our platform. Before it’s shared with external parties, it’s run back through the healthcare systems to make sure they’re comfortable with it. This frontier of data-sharing at scale is new to health systems. This isn’t something they’ve done before, so we’ve put in the appropriate features to give them ultimate control and comfort. They control what data they’re making accessible and how long it’s accessible. We give them quite a bit of leverage because, quite frankly, this is their data.
New Data Sets, New Questions
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, life sciences and pharmaceutical companies are seeing a big drop in the prescription of their immunosuppressants—in dermatology, for instance. The companies that make these drugs want to know—is this because people aren’t seeking care right now, or because doctors are prescribing other treatments. There’s a lot of noise out there right now, in terms of anecdotal information about symptoms of COVID-19 and companies are interested in getting an objective representation of what actually happened in the healthcare environment, in order to either better understand the way their drugs work, or to innovate new ones.
The Next Frontier
We’re starting to see increased interest from life sciences companies in receiving insights from unstructured data because there’s a need to not just understand the what, who, where, and when, but also the why.
Revenue Streams and Innovation
The well-being of patients is core to me. Working in a data company that drives innovation for patients and for health systems is something I can very much get behind. Right now, hospitals are facing significant revenue reductions because they have not been able to do elective procedures, and being able to monetize their data sets could really help remain afloat and add to their clinical-care programs. Turning their information into data sets will also help healthcare systems have a better understanding of their own landscape.
Entrepreneurship and Growth
I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood of Toronto, and even as a kid, my goal was to have a big impact. I started my first company when I was 14, selling T-shirts door-to-door. After graduating from Cornell in 2007 I worked at healthcare technology company that built the largest tele-radiology network in the country. Radiology scans were going digital, so we enabled radiologists around the country to load-share work. I’ve always had this knack of looking for solutions.