Sodexo Ventures recently attended the CB Insights Future of Health virtual conference and if there was one thing we’d list as our top takeaway from the event, its that COVID-19 has played an astronomical role in accelerating innovation in the healthcare space. From the influx of telehealth solutions to the personalization and digitization of care delivery, the way consumers manage their health is beginning to look a lot different from what we’ve seen in the past. In particular, there were a couple categories of companies that appeared to be prevalent at the conference and gave a good indication of where the industry is heading:
- Telehealth – According to Glen Tullman, Founder & Executive Chairman at Livongo Health, telehealth was seeing 3-8% adoption before COVID. As a result of COVID, the industry is now seeing 10x that number. Telehealth-focused companies at the conference ranged from firms like Amwell that provide the technology to enable virtual visits to companies like Tyto Care that sell an entire handheld exam kit for consumers to use at home while speaking to a doctor.
- Care Management Platforms – One key trend that was evident at the conference was the enablement of consumers to take more personal control over their health, especially when it came to chronic conditions and mental health. In particular, we heard from companies that created online platforms that provide a personalized digital experience for consumers looking for guidance on how to manage their conditions from home. Services on these platforms included video visits, chat, medication reminders and additional reference materials and resources to enable a healthy life. Some interesting examples were Happify Health for symptom management for stress, anxiety and depression, FireFly for chronic disease management and Vida Health for physical and mental health.
- Health Monitoring – One key issue in the industry today is the fact that consumers don’t go to the hospital until they are experiencing extreme symptoms. The physician is then only seeing the patient and gathering data for this one small period of time with limited visibility on what may have been happening in the weeks or even years leading up to the visit. Companies are now striving to solve this problem by providing consumers and physicians with solutions to track individual consumer health over time from home, offering consumers peace of mind and a more accurate indicator of when they should seek help, typically before they’d know to do so on their own. We heard from many interesting companies on this topic during the conference, including iXensor that developed a rapid at home blood glucose and cholesterol testing device, Nuvo that focuses on pregnancy monitoring and Current Health, which uses data to detect the onset of disease through an oreo-sized device patients wear on their arm. A particularly relevant use case came from PhysIQ, a remote patient monitoring company that leverages AI to improve clinical outcomes. An inspiring use case that PhysIQ founder Gary Conkright described during his conference session was a partnership with Chicago Hospital UI Health to create a solution for employees that contract COVID-19. UI Health employees with COVID-19 are sent PhysIQ’s Pinpoint monitoring device, which allow nurses to monitor employees’ conditions while they recover in their homes. The system lets the employees know when to go to the hospital, which has reduced the need of incubation for those who did need to be hospitalized while also offering greater peace of mind.
- Automation – Finally, there is another set of companies tackling the automation of administrative tasks that take up a lot of time at the healthcare system. Two great examples of this trend are Protenus, a healthcare compliance-focused company that utilizes AI to aggregate audit data and identify violations and Alpha Health, which automates billing tasks to ensure hospitals are paid correctly and patients receive the right bill.
While this is just a small sampling of the innovative companies we heard from during the conference, it’s a clear indication of the direction healthcare is heading. Data, digitalization and personalization with an emphasis on home-based care are key trends that are not going away any time soon. We at Sodexo Ventures were very impressed by what we’ve seen so far and look forward to finding out what the future holds for these pioneering healthcare companies!