This past Wednesday over 250 of you came together for Health 2.0’s WinterTech event in San Francisco. The day was kicked off by Mark Ganz (Cambia Health) with a personal story about gratitude, purpose, and our collective humanity. Please do watch Mark Ganz’s full keynote talk, and in the meantime here’s the highlight: Mark was the recipient of a gift that changed his life – a full ride to Georgetown, at a time when he was to turn his back on education. The only expectation of repayment was that he pay it forward later and throughout his life.
Fast forward and Mark would become President of Cambia Health in Portland, OR. Cambia is an organization with an unprecedented model of care based squarely in the idea that the human experience is central. Their aim is to be “more person focused, more economically sustainable, and more just.” And in the context of JP Morgan week – a hoorah of suits and money and power – Mark’s talk was a healthy recalibration. He asked us, “if an average person was listening to your conversation on the streets of JP Morgan week, would they be bored? Would they see themselves in your work?” From one-to-one conversations to our larger purpose in life and in work, he implored us to “spend more time in this industry focusing on WHY we’re in it. And WHO we’re in it for.”
With the roadblocks to adoption, pace of innovation, and piles of federal regulations (to name a few) transforming health care isn’t easy – it’s not supposed to be. “Cambia has had defeats, has had suffering. Any company trying to do something does. Do I have hope? The day I don’t, I need to get out of the way. And I mean deep hope – hope that this system can transform, that it isn’t lost.”
Notably, Mark set a tone that became adopted by his fellow speakers. Throughout the day folks were adding addendums to their speech like “…focusing on the patient,” “…with the patient needs first” “…patient centric,” lest we forget for even a moment why we were all there.
Transitioning into the session Transforming Traditional Medicine With Digital Therapeutics, the day took a sharp turn from humanity to digital. Donald Jones (Scripps) presented a very impressive virtual therapist while positing “Why would you use a doctor when the computer could be the doctor, and you go from the power of 1 to the power of 1,000?” His point about the importance of scale, especially in the field of mental health services, wasn’t lost on me. But I do wonder about a future world in which all face-to-face, IRL human experiences are replaced by avatars and bots. Would we want that? What would be lost? Or gained? Digital Therapeutics work is about giving people options. In a pilot with the military, personnel were given the choice between a real therapist or a virtual therapist, and 75% choose virtual. A more diverse variety of options and interfaces for how we receive care is the unstoppable train we’re on.
Patty Mechael (PCH) and Bakul Patel (FDA) also joined the panel moderated by HIMSS EVP Indu Subaiya. Bakul is working on overhauling regulatory processes with an aim to move from a space that is “highly regulated to rightly regulated.” And in her study, Patty found that 40% of physicians hadn’t even heard the term Digital Therapeutics thus illuminating her mission towards awareness and education in building a DTx coalition for collective impact and action.
After lunch WinterTech moved into a spinoff of a crowd favorite – 4 CEOs and Their VCs. The four back-to-back talks hosted by Matthew Holt gave a behind the scenes peek at the experiences between founders and their funders. From early to series C, the common and resounding theme was importance of the relationship – around the clock mentorship (Punit Soni, Robin and Bryan Roberts, Venrock), scrapping the pitch deck in favor of a real conversation (Paul Johnson, Lemonaid Health and Grace Stanat, 415 Venture Capital), trust and boundaries (Seth Sternberg, Honor and Kareem Zaki, Thrive) and constantly pushing each other towards what matters most: doing right by the patient (Owen Tripp, Grand Rounds and Bob Kocher, Venrock). Their sentiments echoed Mark Ganz’s morning keynote with this full circle question: “are they in it for the money, or do they have true purpose?”
It wouldn’t a Health 2.0 investor panel without Lisa Suennen (GE Ventures). She brought with her Gavin Teo (B Capital Group), Nina Kjellson (Canaan Partners), Seth Bannon (Fifty Years), Mohamed Makhzoumi (New Enterprise Associates). The largest consensus among the group was that 2013-2015 was a massive come up for healthcare – with extreme over evaluations etc – and that we’re in the midst of a much-needed course correction. “Gravity is here” with nods all around. Here are some of the Q&A highlights from The Road To IPO and Investment Strategies Along The Way…
Gavin: Series A, folks with a proven team…
Nina: …and ideally some pilot data.
Seth: There is a gap in translational research, in academia that is ready to go commercial. There’s just no easy roadmap for academics to become entrepreneurs. Funding and mentorship for that group is a huge opportunity right now.
Nina: “AI isnt a trend, it’s an enabling technology.”
Q: Predictions for 2018?
Gavin: a 12 billion year in financing.
Nina: 3 or less IPOs this year.
Seth: Telehealth will take off with explosive growth.
Mohamed: Sanity comes back into digital health.
Lisa: We’re going to see a lot of Practice Fusions.
With WinterTech 2018 coming to a close, we capped off the day with a session dedicated to new consumer choices, and it was a great one. Each presenter has a technology or service that targets the most painful pain points in the healthcare experience today and more often than not was started because of frustrating personal experiences. Better (Rachael Norman) will identify money you’re owed in reimbursements from out-of-network medical expenses. Parsley (Robin Berzin) provides physicians who act as collaborators and will spend real time with you. Simple Contacts (Joel Wishkovsky) allows you to take an eye exam anywhere you can bring your phone. Buoy Health (Andrew Le) will triage your illness before you make the mistake of turning to Google. Robin summed it up beautifully, “we do things differently.”
All-in-all WinterTech 2018 was a success! The conversations were honest and fiesty, the technology demos were fresh, and we all walked away feeling more hopeful and clear in our mission to transform healthcare.