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What I Learned At Haas Business School’s Health Care Conference

There’s a lot of entrepreneurial energy in the Bay Area, but I’m always surprised at how much of it is directed towards health care. As Apothecary readers surely recognize, if we were to rank sectors where the government lies ready to crush the entrepreneurial spirit, health care and education must lead the list.

So, I was excited to have wrangled an invitation to the UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business‘ annual Business of Health Care Conference, a day-long event held last week. This year’s conference, the sixth, titled Entrepreneurial Solutions to Health Care Challenges, assembled a high-profile group of entrepreneurs, scholars, and investors.

The most informative panel that I attended addressed “Venture Capital – Positioning Health Care Startups for Success,” moderated by Rebecca Lynn of Morgenthaler Ventures. The panel comprised Missy Krasner, also of Morgenthaler Ventures and the former Google executive who launched the now defunct Google Health; Lisa Suennen, a co-founder of the Psilos Group (perhaps the longest-standing pure-play healthcare VC); and Jeff Tangney, former president of Epocrates and founder of Doximity.

Key take-aways from the panel discussion were:

  • Digital health is where the opportunity lies, but both healthcare investors and IT investors bring unhelpful biases to this new sector.
  • Although the Bay Area crowd is loathe to hear it, some of the best new health IT businesses are in places we’d shun – like Michigan or Nashville.
  • Some digital-health entprenreneurs think they have a business, but they only really have a product. Nothing wrong with that, but you’ve got to sell it, not fund it.

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