Flatiron: Big Data from Cancer Centers in the Cloud
Cancer isn’t something we like talking about, maybe because it is the cause of one of every four deaths in the United States, and nobody likes talking about death. Almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer, and we all like to throw around the term “a cure for cancer”. The fictional “cure for cancer” isn’t any one drug or treatment. It’s the notion that we can continue to apply any number of new or improved drugs and treatments until we’re so effective in getting rid of cancer that nobody dies from it anymore. In order to get to this point, we need to start gathering information about cancer and studying it. One company that is a driving force behind this effort is called Flatiron Health.
New York-based Flatiron Health took their first Series A funding round of $8 million in January of 2013 which gave them an implied valuation of $42 million. Then in May of 2014, Flatiron took in a massive round of $130 million with the most notable investor in both rounds being Google Ventures. The evolution of Flatiron over time is an interesting one.
Stage 1: Oncology Metrics
Back in 2001, a company called Oncology Metrics was founded as a “service and data business for the oncology community that develops products and services to help accelerate advancements in the treatment of cancer“. Essentially, they were gathering information from cancer research centers and aggregating it while at the same time establishing benchmarks and encouraging collaboration. In 2010, they were acquired by a company called Altos Solutions.
Stage 2: Altos Solutions
Founded in 2004, Altos had developed an electronic medical record (EMR) solution called OncoEMR. We talked before about a company called Practice Fusion which is offering electronic health records (EHRs) for free, so what’s the difference between an EHR and an EMR? Essentially they’re the same thing, but in this case, the OncoEMR is specifically designed for cancer patients and had an installed base of over 1,300 oncology clinicians when they were acquired by Flatiron in May of 2014.
Stage 3: Flatiron Health
Remember that massive funding round of $130 million that Flatiron took in May of 2014? That’s what they used to acquire Altos Solutions in the same month. So what did Flatiron bring to the table? At the time of the acquisition, the Company had already been developing their OncologyCloud™ platform which they will use to “fight cancer with organized data”. VCs should take note that it’s not just data we’re talking about here but “big data” and they’re storing it in “the cloud”. (Liberal use of these two terms has been proven to increase the size of funding rounds. If you’re confused as we are about all the cryptic, high-tech terminology being used these days, read this article we published which helps explain things simply). Following the acquisition of Altos, here’s what the Flatiron integrated product offering looks like today:
If you can just mentally draw a picture of a cloud around the above product offerings, then you’re pretty much there when it comes to understanding Flatiron’s value proposition.
Since their acquisition of Altos, Flatiron has made significant progress having deployed their disruptive software platform in over 200 cancer centers across the country helping to support the treatment of nearly one million active cancer patients. They partnered with Guardant Health, a company we highlighted before which develops a cancer blood test called Guardant360. Results from these tests will be assimilated into the cloud and analyzed to provide rich information. They also entered into a strategic partnership with Varian Medical Systems (NYSE:VAR), a company that appears to offer a competing platform called the “ARIA Oncology Information System“.
Flatiron seems to have some momentum behind it and the only way for retail investors to get a piece of this action is if the Company decides to IPO.
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