Over the past two weeks, Boris and Max have shared their investment themes and interests. Boris wrote about the latest opportunities in enterprise SaaS, while Max outlined some of his current investment themes, from the Open Internet to climate change. I’m going to continue the trend by highlighting some of the key areas in healthcare that I’m most excited about right now.
Interest 1: The next generation of patient social networks
Today’s online communities for those with chronic illnesses are quite outdated. The message boards and information are unorganized, and existing platforms typically lack any kind of emotional and human connection.
I’m curious about a Millennial and Gen Z version of Patients Like Me that is mobile-first and built for generations that already share everything on social media. While previous generations were more likely to keep their illnesses undercover, millennials and Gen Z are empowered to share and “own” their conditions. In addition, studies repeatedly show that the younger generation is more isolated and seeks connections online more than ever.
One example is Wana, a community that fosters hope, direction and healing for people with chronic and invisible conditions.
Interest 2: Digital therapeutics to reduce the use of drugs and surgery
Drugs and surgery are expensive and can do more harm than good. I’m excited about the rise of digital therapeutics: evidence-based therapeutic interventions driven by high quality software programs to prevent, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease.
Typically, the methodology used in digital therapeutics is rooted in cognitive behavioural therapy which encourages patients to change certain aspects of their lifestyle. We’ve seen digital therapeutics for a variety of conditions – from diabetes (Omada Health) to musculoskeletal pain (Hinge Health) – and are interested in seeing what else might be treated without drugs or surgery.
Interest 3: Patient care management
We know that patients who are discharged from hospitals or healthcare facilities are at a high risk to be readmitted. SaaS for managing outpatient care is not a new idea, but we’re seeing a rise in “fully integrated continuum of care.” Full stack care/services, as coordinated via software, improves patient outcomes because patients get a network of support and accountability. Examples of these solutions include Boulder, Path, and Quartet.
We recently invested in a startup that creates a continuum of evidence-based care, integrating previously fragmented resources to treat substance use disorder (in hopes of preventing relapses).
The impact of patient care management is obviously huge, but there are lots of challenges to overcome, including the go-to-market strategy (i.e. need to align payers, providers, patients), and scale (i.e. how do we improve margins on tech-enabled services vs. primarily tech companies?).
Interest 4: New approaches to diagnostics
We recently announced our investment in Scanwell Health which aspires to be the “LabCorp / Quest Diagnostics 2.0” by taking existing tests that are done in the lab and bringing them into the home with immediate results. Scanwell’s first test is an at-home kit for UTIs (using urinalysis).
I’m interested in the development of new tests to measure (new) biomarkers for health – whether we sample from menstrual blood to detect glucose levels (Qurasense, a Version One portfolio company) or the microbiome to evaluate gut health, as examples.
Interest 5: Disrupting the status quo in insurance
I recently caught up with Zak Holdsworth, co-founder and CEO of Hint Health, who gave me some food for thought on new insurance models. Hint, for instance, enables primary care providers to offer their patients a subscription (like One Medical) for unlimited services. Doctors love this approach as they get paid directly and don’t have to deal with payers for reimbursements. And patients can save money since most cases can be treated by a PCP, so they don’t need to pay high insurance premiums for low deductibles. In other words, patients can just pay a lower premium for “catastrophic” insurance and supplement it with a Hint Health subscription.
Another new model is Decent, which on the outside administers health plans for self-employed people, but on the inside is powered by blockchain technology.
I’m interested in startups that are disrupting insurance with the hope of making healthcare more affordable and accessible to everyone. Perhaps there is an opportunity for a new insurance company to emerge from a managed marketplace? This could be similar to Hint, as an example, where people buy memberships for standardized services in a particular vertical (i.e. dental, vision, etc.).
If any of these topics resonate with you, let’s chat! And to read more about how we think about healthcare, please revisit a series of blog posts here.