Venture+ Forum: Pro-active care is the holy grail

Startups are told to stop selling technology and start anticipating the needs of care-givers
By Gus Venditto
03:37 PM
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“I don’t think I’ve been more excited that I have been in the last year about the possibility of solving the problems we’re facing,” said Sanaz Cordes, MD. She was describing the current state of venture investment in digital healthcare on a panel at the Venture Plus Forum.

Dr. Cordes noted that “today, acute care is reactive but the holy grail that we want to head towards is pro-active care,” anticipating patient’s needs as diagnostic sensors and alerts stream into EMRs.

But the consensus among all speakers is that the opportunity for startups to succeed by developing technology needs to be re-examined.

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“We’re burning out the doctors. And we can’t have happy patients and good health systems if we don’t have happy providers,” she said, noting that she left primary care practice to join a startup, Healthfinch, that is developing a solution for clinical workflow automation.

The audience of investors and entrepreneurs was told that rather than develop new technology – or “shiny new objects” in Cordes’ words – they need to focus on results.

Matt Hermann, Senior Managing Director, Ascension Ventures, said that entrepreneurs need to “stop using buzzwords and start describing exactly what your solution does.”

“The most over-used words today are patient engagement. But what is that?” said Debra Geihsler, principal at Activate Healthcare. “What we need to do is to get to know the patient.”

Matt Hermann, senior managing director, Ascension Ventures, said “as a big health plan, I don’t want someone to come in and try to sell me a solution. You don’t know the data we have.”

The panellists agreed the opportunities are real for the right solution. Entrepreneurs should be bold, Cordes said, “build apps that are powered by the EMR. Doctors want clinical decision execution. Don’t give me any more tools.”

Joe Miller, director, eHealth and Innovation, AmeriHealth Caritas, put it differently: entrepreneurs should get to know their customers. “Get to know the very specific needs that your customer has and as you learn, you will pivot the product in a way that’s going to make it successful.”

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