23 Jan Talking about (and seeing) a revolution – Day 5
Today was our last day, and it was with heavy hearts that we left for our final sessions of the Tour. We had seen companies through the entire spectrum– from incumbents, radically disruptive ideation centres, and those making the transition from scrappy, boot-strapped start-up to industry behemoth. Today we were going to fill in the final gaps, in the guises of StartUp Health and Zocdoc. The former, which is an incubator and partnership platform for healthcare start ups, and the latter, which provides a service allowing patients to easily make healthcare appointments (and gathers fascinating and rich data, too).
StartUp Health has a wonderful story, and some amazing connections – they were just back from their annual conference (The Startup Health Festival, alongside the JPMorgan conference in San Francisco), which counted Vice President Joe Biden as one of the speakers. They have over 180 companies in their portfolio, which they have invested in, and continue to coach, support and match make to potential partners.
For us it was great to hear about how large companies, like GE, Aurora Health (a health system in Colorado), and Janssen, see the emerging digital and disruptive space. Not only do they get first sight of new technologies and companies, but also the chance to learn from how new organisations and startups operate. As StartUp describe it –developing new business models can be tricky for large companies, and having curated access to the wider ecosystem can really help.
Seeing one of their portfolio companies (Adheretech) in action was an interesting demonstration of this. Their product (a ‘connected pill box’) can be used in clinical trials and to help with adherence. That it requires zero user setup hints at the consumer-type models which are becoming more and more important. The same is true from Omada health – and is reflective of the easy-to-use systems in the consumer space.
Our final stop was Zocdoc. We went to their beautiful offices (they used to belong to a film company), and saw the high energy of a start up – but with some of the infrastructure of a more established company. While there were few dogs to be seen (the alleged talisman of start ups), there was a delicious lunch on offer – and signs for yoga classes. We met the CEO (Dr. Oliver Kharras) and members of their product development team to get under the skin of their business, and future plans.
While they are, at core, a medical appointment booking interface, their mission is to smooth all friction from patient/doctor encounters. This then brings into focus other areas – such as helping people understand their insurance (or designing systems to make sure that you are automatically directed to in-network HCP’s), automating form filling, and reminding patients of important health milestones – such as age-dependent check-ups. Keeping the start-up culture and mentality going when building to scale is an exercise in ever more difficult balances – but it seems ZocDoc has managed it (so far).
We wrapped the tour with a lively discussion on what we will take back (more on that in the final post), what Monday morning will look like, and where our life-savings should be invested.
For most of us flying back over the Atlantic, I feel safe in saying that our eyes have been opened to the hurricane of ideas emerging here. While disparate healthcare systems and languages may have insulated Europe until now, the secular trends of consumerisation and patient empowerment will not have the same respect. Change is coming, and we need to be ready.