Last week I went to a panel presentation sponsored by the group NYC Health Business Leaders on the rollout of New York State’s health insurance exchange. Among the speakers was Mario Schlosser, the co-founder and co-CEO of the venture-capital-backed start-up health insurance company Oscar Health, which offers a full range of plans through New York’s exchange.
As NPR reported last month in a story about Oscar, “it’s been years since a new, for-profit health insurance company launched in the U.S.”, but the Affordable Care Act created a window of opportunity for new entrants.
Schlosser began his talk by giving us a tour of his personal account on Oscar’s website, www.hioscar.com. Among other things, he showed us the Facebook-like timeline, updated in real time, which tracks his two young children’s many visits to the pediatrician.
He typed “my tummy hurts” into the site’s search engine and the site provided information on what might be wrong and on where he might turn for help, ranging from a pharmacist to a gastroenterologist, with cost estimates for each option.
Additional searches yielded information on covered podiatrists accepting new patients with offices near his apartment and on the out-of-pocket cost of a prescription for diazepam (which was zero, since there is no co-payment for generic drugs for Oscar enrollees).
As an audience member noted, none of this is new exactly. What is new is to have this kind of data-driven, state-of-the-art user experience being offered by a health insurer. Schlosser told the audience that Oscar’s pharmacy benefit manager and other vendors are providing the company with real-time data that other insurers have not demanded.
Continue reading “Can Oscar Succeed In Making Health Insurance Fun? Maybe Not Just Yet. But the Startup Is Shaking Things Up …”
Filed Under: THCB
Tagged: consumer driven health, Innovation, Insurers, Kate Greenwood, Mario Schlosser, Oscar, Startups, The ACA
Feb 24, 2014
Conversa is a brand new company, aiming to fill the space between physician visits with easy and useful communications between doctors and patients. The logic is that most health care happens outside the exam room, but most of the effort of automating health care has been put into recording what happens in the medical setting, with little feedback or follow up from patients (HealthLoop is another company aiming at this space).
Why are we featuring Conversa? Well somewhat unusually for a Health 2.0 startup they come with buckets of experience. CEO West Shell was at the helm at Healthline, Product Head Phil Marshall built lots of tools at WebMD and Chief Marketer Anna-Lisa Silvestre was behind the roll out of probably the biggest patient portal ever at Kaiser Permanente.
I got all three of them on the video-line to tell me about Conversa.
Learn more about Conversa’s launch here.
Filed Under: Health 2.0, Matthew Holt, THCB
Feb 13, 2014
Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way:
We love Uber.
As physicians with roots in the Bay Area, we use Uber all the time. The service is convenient, (usually) swift and consistently pleasant. With a few taps of a smartphone, we know where and when we’ll be picked up — and we can see the Uber driver coming to get us in real time.
When the vagaries of San Francisco public transit don’t accommodate our varying schedules, it’s Uber that’s the most reliable form of transportation. (It might be that we like having some immediate gratification.)
So when we caught wind of the news that Uber’s founding architect, Oscar Salazar, has taken on the challenge of applying the “Uber way” to health care delivery, there was quite a bit to immediately like. From our collective vantage point, Uber’s appeal is obvious. When you’re feeling sick, you want convenience and immediacy in your care — two things Uber has perfected.
And who wouldn’t be excited by the idea of keeping patients out of overcrowded emergency rooms and urgent care waiting rooms? The concept of returning those patients to their homes (where they can then be evaluated and receive basic care) seems so simple that it’s brilliant.
Continue reading “Uber for Health Care?? Not So Much.”
Filed Under: Tech, THCB
Tagged: Ali Ansary, Ali Khan, consumer driven health, Innovation, Iora Health, One Medical Group, primary care, Startups, Tasce Bongiovanni, Tech, Uber
Feb 6, 2014
Ryan McQuaid, former Head of Product for AT&T mHealth and friend of Health 2.0, joined Matthew Holt to discuss the launch of his brand new startup PlushCare. And when we say brand new, we mean as of writing this post, their Indiegogo campaign is a mere 23 hours old. PlushCare combines elements of telehealth and concierge medicine to provide basic health care via phone, email, and video chat for $10 per month. Busy working professionals can use the service to connect with Stanford MDs for same-day diagnosis and treatment of illnesses or injuries. The physicians provide advice, prescribe medicine, and will refer directly to primary care providers and specialists if necessary.
PlushCare removes the hassle of scheduling an in-person doctor visit, and provides the same care at lower costs. In addition, for each individual that purchases PlushCare, the company provides one child a lifetime of immunity to measles. PlushCare is currently accepting a limited number of members via their Indiegogo campaign to validate demand and user test. Several other companies are using a similar model of tech-enabled services, including American Well and Teladoc, but the space is sure to see more activity at the prospect of pushing basic care out of the doctor’s office in a way that is convenient for consumers and increases provider efficiency.
Filed Under: Health 2.0, Matthew Holt, THCB
Tagged: Health 2.0, Indiegogo, Plushcare, Stanford, Startups
Jan 31, 2014
More than ever, hospitals are squeezed by demands to reduce costs, operate more efficiently, improve patient safety and outcomes, reduce readmissions, and earn high patient satisfaction ratings. We’ve entered an era where accountable care and pay for performance increasingly dictate hospital revenues.
While technology alone can’t enable hospitals to meet their challenges, there’s a burst of innovation around health tech tools that offer hospitals new pathways to harnessing data, managing performance, and providing better care all around.
What better opportunity for hospital CIOs and CTOs to get a close look at emerging possibilities than the upcoming Health 2.0 2013 Fall Conference?
Here’s a sampling of five budding technologies with game-changing potential for hospitals.
Health Recovery Solutions’ has developed a care management system that scores discharged hospital patients on their re-admission risk daily and intervenes when necessary. The tools are built around a software platform on tablets that patients take home, enabling interaction with trained health coaches and nurses who can intervene when needed.
Catch a demo as part of Health 2.0’s Improving the Inpatient Experience: Tools for Hospitals, a breakout session demonstrating new and dynamic ways to break the structural cycles underlying readmissions.
Continue reading “Five Must-See New Technologies for Hospitals at Health 2.0″
Filed Under: Health 2.0
Tagged: Health 2.0, Health 2.0 Fall 2013 Conference, HIT, Hospitals, Lori Houston, Startups
Sep 26, 2013
Last year was a banner year for digital health, as the market saw significant growth in funding, bigger deals and new investors entering the space. So what’s in store for 2013? According to a survey of nearly 140 digital health entrepreneurs and over 50 health care information technology venture investors, conducted by my venture capital firm InterWest Partners, we are in for another exciting ride this year. In the survey, we asked which sectors will see the most love from investors in 2013; which companies (if any) will see a $1 billion valuation; where they are having trouble recruiting; and which digital health entrepreneur would win “Survivor: HCIT Island” The answers? Well, it all depends who you ask.
Continue reading “Investors Are from Mars. Entrepreneurs Are from Venus”
Filed Under: THCB
Tagged: digital health, entrepreneurship, Funding, Health Insurance Exchanges, InterWest Partners, Michelle Snyder, Practice Fusion, Startups, venture capital
Feb 20, 2013
“Hey doctor, what do you think about this product/solution/service?”
These days, I look at a lot of websites describing some kind of product or solution related to the healthcare of older adults. Sometimes it’s because I have a clinical problem I’m trying to solve. (Can any of these sleep gadgets provide data — sleep latency, nighttime awakenings, total sleep time — on my elderly patient’s sleep complaints?)
In other cases, it’s because a family caregiver asks me if they should purchase some gizmo or sensor system they heard about. (“Do you think this will help keep my mom safe at home?”)
And increasingly, it’s because an entrepreneur asks me to check out his or her product.
So far, it’s been a bit of a bear to try to check out products. Part of it is that there are often too many choices, and there’s not yet a lot of help sifting through them. (And research has shown that choices create anxiety, decision-fatigue, and dissatisfaction with one’s ultimate pick.)
But even when I’m just considering a single product and trying to decide what to think of it, I find myself a bit stumped by most websites. And let’s face it, if I visit a website and it doesn’t speak to my needs and concerns fairly quickly, I’m going to bail. (Only in exceptional cases will I call or email for more information.)
So I thought it might be interesting to try to articulate what would help me more thoughtfully consider a product or service that is related to the healthcare of older adults.
Continue reading “How Doctors Think About New Technologies”
Filed Under: THCB
Tagged: Data, Design, Entreprenuership, Geriatrics, Startups
Jan 30, 2013
Healthcare providers are finding their “play it safe” culture isn’t conducive to breakthrough innovation.
Facing the inevitable deflationary pressures being put upon the healthcare system, innovation is critically needed. Having spoken with several innovation groups in health systems, most examples of “innovation” are decidedly uninspiring. Primarily, it is due to the fact that virtually all of their decisions have to go through the prism of how new ideas will fit with current businesses — a guarantee that will doom so-called innovation to be little more than incremental improvements. Consequently, increasing numbers of hospitals and health systems are smartly allocating money to venture funds that have free reign to find truly disruptive new businesses.
Health systems have taken various approaches such as becoming a Limited Partner in venture funds like Health Enterprise Partners. Some of the larger systems, such as HCA and Dignity Health, have their own venture arms. A new development is a much smaller organization establishing their own venture fund. Implicit in this approach is a much more hands-on approach than as an investor in a 3rd party venture fund. Rex Health Ventures is an early example of venture-capital investment funds in the country started by a community, nonprofit hospital (Rex Health Care). The fund is being launched with an initial $10 million investment from Rex Healthcare and will help finance the most promising innovations among new medical services, tools and technologies.
Continue reading “Innovation Case Studies: Small Hospital Venture Funds”
Filed Under: Uncategorized
Tagged: Dave Chase, David Strong, Investment funds, New York Digital Health Accelerator, Rex Health Ventures, Rex Healthcare, Rock Health, Startups
Nov 26, 2012
Practice Fusion, Castlight or ZocDoc will be the next digital health IPO. That’s according to a survey of over 100 innovative digital health entrepreneurs, conducted by my firm, InterWest Partners.
Nearly one third of respondents said Practice Fusion was most likely to be the next digital health IPO with approximately 20% of entrepreneurs voting for Castlight and ZocDoc, respectively. Among the trio, all three have been impressive generating media coverage and raising money (collectively raising over $320m in the last 2 years alone with valuations ranging from $450m to upwards of three quarters of a billion dollars), in addition to having some of the most visionary leaders in the space.
Contrary to popular belief that digital health is primarily about the next iPhone app for weight loss, sleep or exercise, it was interesting to note that all of the leading “IPO” candidates in our survey have B2B models. This is consistent with an insightful RockHealth report ( which found that nearly 80% of digital health companies have B2B models. Future growth in this category is likely to continue as the leading healthcare accelerators such as RockHealth, BluePrint Health and Healthbox are all seeing more applications from B2B companies.
The responses to the IPO question reflect an interesting industry trend. Though often classified as “B2B”, many of the leading digital health companies are really B2B2C – meaning that without the C there is no B2B. Pricing transparency tools (Castlight), scheduling platforms (ZocDoc), employer based wellness programs, medication adherence solutions – they all must find a way to engage the end user or they won’t be purchased by the employer, physician, healthplan, hospital, or pharma company. And though it’s impossible these days to sit through a day of pitches without hearing the phrase “consumer engagement” twenty times, I’m excited that people are starting to ask more of the right questions. Why will someone want to use this? Does it really solve a true need? Is the product easy to use, intuitive, and fun? Continue reading “The Next Digital Health IPO?”
Filed Under: THCB
Tagged: Blueprint Health, Castlight, Healthbox, InterWest, Michelle Snyder, Practice Fusion, RockHealth, Startups, Zocdoc
Nov 12, 2012
I recently had the great fortune of attending Health 2.0 in San Francisco. The conference was abuzz with new medical technologies that are harnessing the power of innovation to solve healthcare problems including many new mobile medical application companies showcasing their potential. As I walked and talked around the exhibit floor, one thing caught my ear, or I should say one thing didn’t catch my ear. Among the chatter about these products, the concern about FDA regulation of this product segment, or even FDA regulation in general was noticeably absent. While many of the application developers are well aware of potential FDA involvement, most would be hard-pressed to outline the impact this would have on their companies and products.
Being labeled a medical device, which is the direction the FDA is leaning, could have a significant impact on business model organization, top-line revenue, and product deployment. For unprepared start-ups, FDA regulation could signal an end for their company. This is in stark contrast to well informed developers who are preparing themselves for the change and would most likely be able to leverage these regulations to their advantage.
Continue reading “A Coming Storm: FDA Regulation of Mobile Medical Applications”
Filed Under: THCB
Tagged: Apps, FDA, FDA regulations, Health 2.0, medical device, Medical Device Manufactures Association, Mobile health, Patient Safety, Ryan Minarovich, Startups
Oct 24, 2012