In a recent interview on Bloomberg TV, Eric Lefkofsky talked about data-driven medicine. Mr. Kefkofsky is the CEO of Tempus, a company he founded to provide technological solutions to medical problems.
Throughout his career, he brought technology to industries that hadn’t used much technology before. He became inspired to do the same with the medical industry when he realized how little health care providers were using data in their work. There was a clear need to bring data to medicine, and he strove to fill it.
He founded Tempus with the initial goal of fixing the data infrastructure underlying care for cancer patients. That involved collecting data about who cancer patients were, what drugs they were taking, and how they responded to those drugs. Tempus than analyzed the data to discover patterns that explain why patients responded to the drugs the way that they did.
The process involves sophisticated genetic sequencing. It relies on cutting-edge technology tools to perform complex analyses that would have been impossible or unaffordable several years ago. For example, as recently as 12 years ago, it would have cost a million times more to generate the kind of genomic data that Tempus generates and uses today.
The result has important clinical applications. Physicians use the information Tempus provides to select medications for their patients. The data helps them pick the drug that is most likely to help patients.
Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have all recently announced that they are starting to become involved in the business of data mining for health care. Mr. Lefkofsky thinks this is a positive trend. Using more technology in medicine will improve people’s lives, and the health care industry is so big that there is room for all of these companies to thrive in the medical data space.
Although Tempus is a young company, founded in 2015, it already has had a strong impact on the way that cancer is treated. There are approximately 250 hospital systems that are working with Tempus, and data from about 25 percent of all cancer patients in the U.S. is now processed at Tempus.
The technology will have an even larger impact in the future. Mr. Lefkofsky predicts that in about five years, all cancer patients in the U.S. are likely to have their genomes sequenced. He believes the same thing will start to happen at some point with cardiovascular disease, infectious diseases, and other health problems. Within five to 10 years, almost everyone in the U.S. will have their genonmes sequenced a lot. The result will be an era where medical treatment can be tailored to individuals in a way that was not possible in the past.
Mr. Lefkofsky said that he has learned from all of his past business experiences. He has a simple formula for success. After each experience, he tries to repeat what worked well and avoid repeating what didn’t. One lesson he has learned from past experiences is to wait longer before taking a company public. He says that when there are huge paradigm shifts in the way things are done, it’s better to wait until everything is solidly in place before going public.
Meanwhile, Tempus is growing. The company that started by focusing on cancer patients has now expanded to helping patients with diabetes and depression. Its plans for the future include working with other diseases, including cardiovascular disease.
In addition to being CEO and founder of Tempus, Eric Lefkofsky is chairman and co-founder of Groupon, whose world-famous site changed the way that companies attract new customers. He also co-founded Mediaocean, Echo Global Logistics, Inner Workings, and Uptake Technologies.