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Category: WTF Health

HealthTech Investing: Venrock’s Kocher & Roberts Bet on Platforms

“Healthcare is a journey for patients. Just helping them with one piece of it — it just doesn’t get the job done…”

That’s Brian Roberts of Venrock talking about how he and Bob Kocher have moved on from investing in one-trick-pony health tech point solutions. What are they favoring now? Well, they’re not alone in seeking out platforms…especially those that solve big work flow, patient journey, or systems issues.

The underlying motivator here is, of course, money. Or rather, as Roberts puts it, the fact that “no one in the healthcare system makes any real money.”

ROI is different in healthcare. And they encourage startups — and those health systems, health plans, and provider groups that buy their solutions — to really consider what that means.

Kocher explains that what’s often overlooked is how quickly relationships turn over in healthcare. Patients can change insurance plans every year, or they may switch doctors or hospitals based on when they can get an appointment. This thwarts development of any real customer loyalty, and worse for startups, creates a situation where they need to prove tangible cost savings or increased revenue in a short 1-2 years.

What’s an entrepreneur or investor to do? Listen in for more ROI talk and advice for pivoting a point solution startup.

Get a glimpse of the future of healthcare by meeting the people who are going to change it. Find more WTF Health interviews here or check out www.wtf.health. Filmed at Health Datapalooza in Washington DC, April 2018.

UPMC’s Rasu Shrestha on Consumer Health in ‘Big’ Healthcare

The phrase ‘consumer health’ doesn’t mean what it used to. And, when you really think about it, neither does the word ‘consumer.’ We’ve changed. Wielding the power of our smart phones, wearable devices, and proximity to CVS Minute Clinics – and armed with expectations of near-instant gratification thanks to the Amazons and Ubers of the world – we’re more demanding, exacting and impatient of the health system than ever before.

As all of this starts to change demand, supply, and (fingers crossed) our entire industry, it’s tempting to focus on what the new guys are doing. I’m as guilty as any for being fixated on the doings of the big tech companies and sexy little startups that are coming into our space. But, the reality is that the greatest amount of change will have to come from those stalwarts of the ‘healthcare establishment’ – the health systems and the payers that ARE the system in and of itself.

So, how are they thinking about the consumerization of healthcare? What does it mean to ‘empower consumers’ when your organization is bearing the risk associated with caring for their lives? Lucky for us, Dr. Rasu Shrestha, Chief Innovation Officer of health-system/payer-system giant UPMC can break it down.

Warning: This interview is long and heady, but, man, is it ever worth it. Rasu talks about the macroeconomics of shifting risk from insurers to providers and consumers, business model implications for all players involved, and how the ‘free the data’ movement feeds into all this. Last but not least, he talks about the kinds of startups he’s hoping will help payers and providers usher in this new consumer-driven era.

If you’re doing any kind of business in healthcare today, you’ll want to give this a listen. And, if Rasu wants to add another doctorate to his name, this interview analyzing ‘the macroeconomics and shifting risk environment of the consumerization of healthcare’ might be the start of his dissertation. We’ll look for our @wtf_health footnote.

Get a glimpse of the future of healthcare by meeting the people who are going to change it. Find more WTF Health interviews here or check out www.wtf.health. Filmed at the Bayer G4A Accelerator Launch in NYC, May 2018.

Livongo CEO Glen Tullman’s Advice for Startups

If you’re a health tech startup, should you be building for your exit? Does that really lead to the greatest possible success for your business…if you know how to get out?

Here’s some advice from someone who should know. Glen Tullman is ‘the guy’ who took Allscripts public via a wildly successful IPO in the late-90s. He’s now the CEO of Livongo, a chronic condition management startup that rang in 2018 with a $105M mega-round raised internally among its current pool of investors – at more than two times the company’s previous valuation.

When I caught up with Glen earlier this year, it was just after his round closed, the company acquired Retrofit, and rumors had started swirling about Livongo going public. Needless to say, our conversation turned toward ‘the exit’ and I had the chance to ask what he would tell other startup founders about going IPO. What comes next is a passionate discourse about what it takes to not only exit – but raise and scale – a startup in healthcare. For being a money guy, Glen is no sell-out; young startups would be wise to take his two cents and invest them.

Get a glimpse of the future of healthcare by meeting the people who are going to change it. Find more WTF Health interviews here or check out www.wtf.health. Filmed at HLTH in Las Vegas, May 2018.

Disrupting the Cholesterol Test: Finnish Startup Nightingale Health

Today’s cholesterol test is about to be disrupted. Nightingale Health, a five-year-old startup based out of Finland, has built a better blood test that – among other things – is about to disrupt the cholesterol test of today.

Their blood test collects 50 times more biomarker data than the standard test – boasting a 20% better prediction rate for diabetes and cardiovascular disease – and they’re offering it at the same price point as the existing industry standard. Why does this matter? Well, for clinicians, researchers, or those working on new drug development, the Nightingale test is not only offering an unprecedented amount of metabolic data, but it’s an unprecedented amount of AFFORDABLE metabolic data that can impact the health care cost curve as far as the eye can see.

What’s more – and this has gotten investors’ blood pumping – they haven’t even fully realized the full potential of their panel. Listen in as Kristiina Tolvanen talks with me about the company’s priorities to build their evidence base and find out what else their biomarker analysis platform can potentially displace. Freshly funded with a $30M round – and a very prestigious partnership with the UK Biobank to analyze 500,000 blood samples – this is one to watch.

Filmed at Upgraded Life Festival in Helsinki, Finland, June 2018. Find more interviews on health and technology here or check out www.wtf.health

Susannah Fox on Teens & Digital Health Study

How are teens and young adults engaging with digital health? Results of a national survey asking just that were released today by Susannah Fox (Former CTO at US Dept of HHS) and her research partner, Victoria Rideout.

You can check out the full report of the findings here, but I spoke with Susannah in April, just as she and Victoria were starting to draw some insights from their work.

Hearing her talk about the survey at this stage of synthesis is not only unique (most researchers won’t talk until the findings are published) but more so because it adds a layer of understanding to the final results now that they’re here.

We get her candor about how teens and young adults are a wildly viable – yet very overlooked – market for digital health…

We see how she’s trying to formulate a much larger hypothesis about what healthcare can learn about social media from a generation that has never lived without it and, more importantly, view it as having a positive impact on their well-being…

And, probably most inspiring to me, we see an approach to health data that stands out for its warmth. For it’s love, really. In a world of big data and clinical trials, it’s endearing to hear from someone who is taking a more anthropological approach and who has fallen absolutely, head-over-heels in LOVE with the personal side of her dataset.

As we all clamor for a patient-centered end, we’d be remiss to underestimate the value of a human-centered starting point. Watch Susannah Fox for a strong model of how this can be done in health research.

Filmed at Health DataPalooza, Washington DC, April 2018. Find more interviews with the people pushing healthcare to better tomorrow at www.wtf.health

What’s Next in Health Tech Investment? 500 Startups VC Marvin Liao Weighs In

What do health tech investors think is ‘hot’ these days? Where is the money going? I ran into Marvin Liao, partner at 500 Startups (a VC fund/accelerator program that has made more than 2000 investments in early-stage tech startups over the past eight years) at ICEE Health in Bucharest, Romania, last month and had a chance to ask.

With refreshing candor, Marvin weighs in on whether or not digital therapeutics, mental health, and biotech have room to grow — and if Apple, Google, and Amazon really have the power to change the future of health.

Where is he most bullish? It’s no surprise I ran into him outside the US. He’s got his eyes on bleeding edge innovations coming out of foreign markets…especially Japan. Have a look!

Filmed at ICEE Health in Bucharest, Romania, June 2018. Find more interviews about health & technology at www.wtf.health

Why I Tattooed My Health Data Over My Heart | WTF Health with Casey Quinlan

WTF Health – ‘What’s the Future’ Health? is a new interview series about the future of the health industry and how we love to hate WTF is wrong with it right now. Can’t get enough? Check out more interviews at www.wtf.health

How can patients help usher in a better future for healthcare? Start speaking up. LOUDLY.

In this WTF Health interview, meet one of health’s most outspoken patient advocates, Twitter voices (@mightycasey) and podcasters, Casey Quinlan of Mighty Casey Media, who talks about her patient journey as a cancer survivor — and why the awful experience led her to tattoo a QR code linking to her electronic medical record to her chest.

Casey’s ‘physical political protest’ is tied to her passionate views about the lack of data liquidity in healthcare and how patients suffer as a result. She’s launching a new “If-You’re-Selling-My-Health-Data-Cut-Me-In” Movement and weighs in on why more patients aren’t clamoring after their health data to push real change in the healthcare system.

Filmed at Health Datapalooza in Washington DC, April 2018.  

WTF Health | Self-Reported Patient Monitoring Startup from Finland, Kaiku Health

WTF Health – ‘What’s the Future’ Health? is a new interview series about the future of the health industry and how we love to hate WTF is wrong with it right now. Can’t get enough? Check out more interviews at www.wtf.health

Central to the ‘WTF Health’ ethos is the idea that around the world, there is a shared passion for creating a new future for healthcare — and that the less-positive ‘WTF moment’ is a shared experience, regardless of which country’s health system one is standing in.

So, I’m going around the world this year — to 17 different health innovation conferences in 11 different countries — to find out what innovators abroad are doing to tackle the problems in their health systems and what we can learn from one another.

Driving down the cost of care, managing chronic conditions, helping people achieve better health, improving care delivery and patient experience — these goals know no borders. What’s different is the framework around them. So, what if the payment model were different? What if there was a single electronic patient record? What if certain laws and regulations didn’t exist?

Different constraints breed different solutions. What a hopeful and inspiring idea. And, with any luck, food for your thoughts and innovative thinking.

So here is the first interview I’d like to share from abroad! Everyone meet Finnish startup Kaiku Health, fresh off closing a €4.4M Euro series A. Their patient monitoring monitoring platform lets cancer patients (and others with chronic diseases) self-report on how they’re doing, using their hospital’s existing patient portal. Stick around until the end: Bonus insight on the strengths of the health tech startup scene in the Nordics for those who want to go explore.

Filmed at Upgraded Life Festival in Helsinki, early June.  

WTF Health | Oscar’s Schlosser on Consumerizing Health Plans, post-ACA & pre-Amazon/JPM/BH

WTF Health – ‘What’s the Future’ Health? is a new interview series about the future of the health industry and how we love to hate WTF is wrong with it right now. Can’t get enough? Check out more interviews at www.wtf.health

Having formerly worked for a health plan, I geek out over health plan innovation as IMO it’s the underpinning of the true disruption of health care. When the incentives change, everything else will change too…

So when I met Mario Schlosser, co-founder & CEO of Oscar Health at Health Datapalooza, I may or may not have asked him to sign my Oscar insurance card. (Yep, I’m a member.)

Our chat focused his push to continue driving health plan innovation amid the deterioration of the ACA and his plans for Oscar’s latest $165M round. His goal: make the payer “an interface and enabler of new kinds of technologies.” Is that even possible?!

Around 4:15 minute mark we find out if he’s been tapped for advice from the Berkshire Hathaway/Amazon/JP Morgan health alliance as they take on their own challenges disrupting health insurance.

WTF Health | Teladoc’s Gorevic: “We’re feeling A-quisitive”

WTF Health – ‘What’s the Future’ Health? is a new interview series about the future of the health industry and how we love to hate WTF is wrong with it right now. Can’t get enough? Check out more interviews at www.wtf.health

I guess he warned us that Teladoc was feeling ‘A-quisitive’ — the question now is are they done? A few weeks ago I spoke with Jason Gorevic, Teladoc’s CEO at the new HLTH Conference about consolidation in the telehealth space and what’s next for the virtual care giant.

Although he was mum on the company’s $352M mega-buy of Advance Medical, there was a shopping list of other solutions that seem to have caught Teladoc’s eye — everything from tech that turns Alexa into a telemed access point to NLP plug-ins and any number of shiny devices that make remote monitoring easier, less expensive, and more effective.

Perhaps an indicator of where they’ll look next as they continue to sweep up market share? Listen in on some of the details about their CVS partnership (VIRTUAL Minute Clinic, anyone?) and the VERY interesting talks he’s having with the country’s largest payers on redefining benefit designs to push virtual care first.

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