Health Care Investment Trends: A GE Ventures Perspective

By Lee Ann Jarousse, Senior Editor, H&HN

The following is a summation of Sue Siegel’s remarks at GE’s “Strategies for Success in the U.S. Health Care Market,” by H&HN editors who attended the GE event.

It’s an exciting time to be in health care; and it’s also an exciting time to be in venture capital. Industry lines are blurring and business models are changing. There is ample progress taking place across industries, driving innovation across the technology spectrum and new disruptive utility being drawn from big data — and all of this is impacting the future of the health care field.

GE Siegel

“The pace of change in health care will never be as slow as it is today,” Siegel said.

In health care, the pace of change has not been as fast as in the tech industry, but that is changing. We’re seeing a revolution toward meaningful personalization of therapies and services, new trends toward consumer-oriented care, transformational opportunities for population health and the convergence of social, mobile, analytics, cloud technologies and their mass adoption.

Today, patient consumers are taking a more prominent role in managing their health, well-being and the way they interact with health care services. At no time in history have people been so intimately linked with technology nor have they been such prolific generators of personal data.

  • Centralized to Distributed: A shift from hospital-centered care and doctor office visits to retail clinics, telemedicine and virtual visits.
  • Cap-Ex to Op-Ex: Instead of paying for a comprehensive doctor’s visit you pay only for a flu shot. As evidenced by the U.S. health care system, we’re moving from fee-for-service to fee-for-value with improved outcomes.
  • Static to Connected: Wearables, mobile phones and gadgets are recording ever movement. These troves of data can be leveraged with “algos” and a variety of analytics to pivot care to become smarter and more real time.

These changes create a significant opportunity for venture capital investment. In the past, health care was viewed as capital-intensive, heavily regulated and slow-moving. Accenture Strategy analysis reveals that 85 percent of technology companies and 77 percent of venture capitalists surveyed consider disrupting health care to be a top strategic priority.

At GE Ventures, we invest in startups of all sizes, from seed to growth stage, and intentionally look for companies that can leverage GE’s expertise and scale to help them accelerate their innovations into practice — not just by providing investment dollars. We work with industry experts to identify where the major pain points are, what entrepreneurs are testing and building, and we work very closely with financial venture capitalists to understand early trends in financing. There are many themes for health care investing, but four that we cover here are life care, digitization of health, precision medicine and Digital TherAppeutics.

Health care is shifting from diagnosing and treating to more active managing and preventing. Organizations are rethinking care models, channels and structures to design for life care. It used to be about sickness but, now and into the future, care will increasingly focus on one’s life and health span. As profit pools shift, what will matter is managing health span versus just life span.

A wave of new, digital companies are delivering convenient, seamless and personalized experiences focused on advanced 360-degree support, with an emphasis on social determinants and community-based health. These holistic approaches connect hospital to home through primary care, retail and telehealth. Iora Health is providing a different model of primary care that is built from the ground up — partnering with patients and providers every step of the way with more accessible, non-office-based care, while providing better outcomes for individuals and improving the costs in our health care system.

In a community, population health strives to improve the social determinants that contribute to health span. An emphasis on the broader determinants of health, for example, — education, nutritional access, safety — ultimately benefit both the individual and the population in which that individual resides. The deluge of data is enabling businesses of all sizes to make more informed decisions and build solutions through real-time insights. Health care is soon to follow as the digitization of the field has been occurring over the last decade. The use of data and evidence-based protocols to predict and prevent disease and deliver health care in the most precise manner will represent a positive, disruptive use case for health care. Great advancement in imaging analytics, as well as the use of information technology and technology to improve productivity, will also be part of the industrialization of health care.

One example of richness in data: The team at Human Longevity is now able to predict your age from your blood and, from the combination of data, they can predict what you’ll look like from womb through aging.

The movement from personalized medicine to precision medicine, infused with the advancement in population health will lead to precision population medicine. Accelerated by public health funding, technological advancement and genomic breakthroughs, there is a shift taking place from intervention to prevention.

Precision-medicine initiatives across the globe are increasingly more focused on correlating genetic and lifestyle characteristics. Some great examples in this area are targeted therapies for specific types of cancers or orphan diseases. Earlier this year, GE Ventures launched Vitruvian Networks, a company focused on accelerating access to cell and gene therapies through advanced, cloud-ready software systems and manufacturing services.

Digital TherAppeutics is ushering in a new time in health, providing a new way to access care, unlocking new value by transforming care delivery, improving access and cutting costs. Applications, bolstered by scalable platforms, are focused on high-risk, high-cost areas of health care — diabetes, cardiac, respiratory, mental, oncology, etc. Through the adoption of digital technologies, a sustainable behavioral change can be realized.

Omada Health, one of the pioneers in proactive Digital TherAppeutics, is facilitating this growth in the proactive health sector by delivering behavioral medicine for diabetes management that is clinically supported and evidence-based to coach participants through their personal health.

The reality is: The pace of change in health care will never be as slow as it is today. With converging advancements in key technologies, combined with the endless pressure to decrease costs, our U.S. health care system cries out for disruption. And patient/consumer expectations are that their health care user experience be as easy as ordering from Amazon Prime. Ensuring future success will require new strategies and rethinking business models in what is now a rapidly growing and changing industry that each of us depends on for our health span.

Review the full supplement, "Strategies for Success in the U.S. Health Care Market."