In order to celebrate the next decade (although the internet is confused whether its actually the end of the decade…), we’re taking a step back and listing our picks for the 9 most influential healthcare companies of the 2010s. If your company is left off, there’s always next decade… But honestly, we tried our best to compile a unique listing that spanned the gamut of redefining healthcare for a variety of good and bad reasons. Bon appétit!
1. Epic Systems Corporation
The center of the U.S. electronic medical record (EMR) universe resides in Verona, Wisconsin. Population of 13,166. The privately held company created by Judith “Judy” Faulkner in 1979 holds 28% of the 5,447 total hospital market in America. Drill down into hospitals with over 500-beds and Epic reigns supreme with 58% share. Thanks to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and movement away from paper records (Meaningful Use), Epic has amassed annualized revenue of $2.7 billion. That was enough to hire the architects of Disneyland to design their Google-like Midwestern campus. The other amazing fact is that Epic has grown an average of 14% per year, despite never raising venture capital or using M&A to acquire smaller companies.
Over the years, Epic has been criticized for being expensive, non-interoperable with other EMR vendors, and the partial cause for physician burnout. Expensive is probably an understatement. For example, Partners HealthCare (to be renamed Mass General Brigham) alone spent $1.2 billion to install Epic, which included hiring 600 employees and consultants just to build and implement the system and onboard staff. With many across healthcare calling for medical record portability that actually works (unlike health information exchanges), you best believe America’s 3rd richest woman will have ideas how the country moves forward with digital medical records.
It used to be that patients would have to go see a doctor to get lab tests ordered to check their cholesterol or metabolism, but now, thanks to at-home testing companies like Everlywell, those tests (and 30 others, including STI tests) can be ordered online or picked up at some big box retailers. We chatted with Dr. Frank Ong, Everlywell’s Chief Medical and Scientific Officer, about what it means to put patients in charge of ordering their own lab work — and combing through their own testing results — vis a vie the Everlywell platform. As consumers demand more control over their healthcare dollar and the experience it buys, is there a point where patients risk getting in over their heads? How have doctors been responding to patients who come in armed with their own lab results? We check in on how at-home testing kits are ‘testing’ the reaches of patient-led care.
How can helping a cartoon fox also help your mental health? Enter Socks the Fox and Sinasprite, a world exploration game that teaches players evidence-based treatments and coping methods for anxiety and depression. How does it work? Litesprite CEO Swatee Surve explains that players are charged with helping Socks the Fox become a Zen master (of course) and, in doing so, work through a series of challenges and exercises that teach coping mechanisms that range from journaling to diaphragmatic breathing. With its super-sticky storyline (Socks is adorable) the clinically validated game offers a new, upbeat way to bring tech and game theory into the way we treat mental health disorders.
Filmed at Bayer G4A Signing Day in Berlin, Germany, October 2019.
Today, I’m closing out the year of Health in 2 Point 00 from the ski slopes. In Episode 103, Jess asks me about the ACA ruling that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, whether Sutter Health got what they deserved after the $575 million settlement, health insurer Bright Health raising a huge $635 million round, and a rumor about a $250M Softbank investment coming next week. Wishing you all a very happy 2020! —Matthew Holt
The question of how much time I spend in front of the screen has pestered me professionally and personally.
A recent topic of conversation among parents at my children’s preschool has been how much screen time my toddlers’ brain can handle. It was spurred on by a study in JAMA Pediatrics that evaluated the association between screen time and brain structure in toddlers. The study reported that those children who spent more time with electronic devices had lower measures of organization in brain pathways involved in language and reading.
As a neurologist, these findings worry me, for my children and for myself. I wonder if I’m changing the structure of my brain for the worse as a result of prolonged time spent in front of a computer completing medical documentation. I think that, without the move to electronic medical records, I might be in better stead — in more ways than one. Not only is using them potentially affecting my brain, they pose a danger to my patients, too, in that they threaten their privacy.
As any practicing physician can tell you, electronic medical records represent a Pyrrhic victory of sorts. They present a tangible benefit in that medical documentation is now legible and information from different institutions can be obtained with the click of a button — compared to the method of decades past, in which a doctor hand-wrote notes in a paper chart — but there’s also a downside.
Today on THCB Spotlights, Matthew chats with Omri Shor, the CEO and Co-founder of Medisafe. Way back in 2014, Medisafe took home the gold at Health 2.0, winning first place at Traction. Since then, their consumer medication management tool has evolved quite a bit. While the app is available for patients with over 6 million users today, they also have folks across the health care continuum partnering with Medisafe to manage the medication journey for their patients. Matthew picks Omri’s brain on how things will continue to evolve, what he’s learned to help people in health care think about the problem of medication management, and how Medisafe fits in with the numerous medication management and chronic disease management tools out there.
Sean Duffy, CEO of Omada Health, proves why his company is one of those digital health startups everyone’s watching in the chronic condition management space. Never mind the buzz around their latest massive funding round or Livongo’s IPO, the real story here is Sean’s idea about building a “completely digital” care provider for folks with pre-diabetes, type II diabetes, hypertension, and mental health issues — or, at least that’s the goal for the next decade. What does a “full-stack view of supporting someone’s care look like? How do you get there? Tune in to find out about Omada’s proprietary tech-testing litmus test, “The Sean Duffy’s Mom Test,” and some good advice for other health tech startups about what it takes to win over clinicians with your tech.
Filmed at Health 2.0 in Santa Clara, California in September 2019.
Jessica DaMassa is the host of the WTF Health show & stars in Health in 2 Point 00 with Matthew Holt. 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.
That history should provide a sobering perspective on the distinction between inevitable and imminent (a difference at least as important to investors as intellectuals), even on hot-button topics such as new data uses involving the electronic health record (EHR).
I’ve been one of the optimists. Earlier this year, my colleague Adrian Gropper and I wrote about pending federal regulations requiring providers to give patients access to their medical record in a format usable by mobile apps. This, we said, could “decisively disrupt medicine’s clinical and economic power structure.”