Web-based healthtech startups have invention risk. Surprise!

As readers of this blog know, I am interested in the potential of novel social networking and other internet-age techniques to transform our creaky healthcare system. A particularly intriguing class of startups is using these social techniques to change the behavior of patients in ways that lead to better health. For example, helping people to eat less, or avoid pre-diabetes, or manage their medication better, or avoid hospital readmission by taking better care of their heart disease.

The exciting thing about these web-based startups is that they use Lean startup methodology, have low capital requirements, and are staffed with young, energetic, change-the-world types.

And, putting on my investor hat, they have market risk perhaps, but no invention risk, because all this internet stuff is engineering right?

So, I was quite surprised recently, when I had reason to think more carefully about this class of companies, to realize that I think they do indeed have a pretty substantial invention risk. And interestingly, most of the ones I have looked at don’t realize they have invention risk, and are not managing their businesses as if they have invention risk. That is a worry. [Read more…]

Adding micro-nutrients to Quantified Self

While it’s all doom and gloom when I attend traditional medical device meetings, the group of (often new to healthcare) technologists interested in digital health provide a refreshing contrast. Last week I had the opportunity to interact with a group of impressively pedigreed technology CTO’s who had set themselves the challenge of inventing a new dimension to the Quantified Self (QS) movement: consumer nutritional micro-analysis. [Read more…]

Second opinions, IBM’s Watson, and Crowdsourcing

Second opinions in medicine have always been a good idea. With the rise of artificial intelligence, and crowd sourcing, the concept of a “second opinion” is changing in some interesting ways.

I spent last week at Singularity University’s FutureMed, which I thoroughly recommend. It was a densely packed week full of exposure to emerging technologies like 3D tissue printing, synthetic biology, and real-world applications of genomics and pharmacogenomics. Far too much stuff to try and summarize here. A particularly interesting theme was the rise of artificial intelligence and its potential applications to medicine. [Read more…]

Primary care health, USA: the 401(k) model?

I have been spending a lot of time recently exploring Health 2.0 (digital health, quantified self, wireless health, etc) and trying to read the tea leaves about how the US healthcare system is likely to change, as total costs continue on a seemingly unsupportable long term trajectory. I see an interesting analogy to the history of retirement finance in the US over the last 50 years. If I am right, this has some intriguing implications. [Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: