We represent two venture capital firms, Union Square Ventures and Version One Ventures, that are keenly interested in the healthcare space. While we maintain a traditional market map (i.e. a single Keynote slide collating dozens of company logos squeezed into labeled boxes), we find ourselves with more questions than answers about how the healthcare market will shake out.
A traditional market map of healthcare startups suggests a certain kind of stasis, as if we merely needed to figure out which present-day companies and models would battle it out and then win on execution. But this traditional view belies how uncertain and immature the healthcare market is right now, and just how transformative this market could be.
Consider how our two funds looked at many healthcare startups before we jointly invested in Figure 1. Our initial research didn't lead us to believe that there should be a media-sharing network for doctors. Rather, it was simultaneously validated and invalidated when we learned about Figure 1. Today, Figure 1 is permeating across a worldwide network of doctors in a way we never could have anticipated.
It's in this spirit that we're blogging about the things we've seen in healthcare and the questions we have about this space. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing a four-part series of questions and answers. If you can help us answer these questions, we'd love to hear from you. And if we’re not asking the right questions, we’d be even more eager to learn what we’re missing.
Three important notes before we begin:
Given that we’re based in the US, we’ve taken a US-centric view on many of these issues. For example, in most other countries the concerns about insurance would be trivial or non-existent. Conversely, if you live outside the US and you don’t yet find our healthcare system baffling, this post should be informative.
This isn’t a comprehensive overview of every healthcare startup. We’re focused more on the ideas that many of the companies mentioned here represent, rather than which companies may succeed.
Technology is great and all, but does it improve clinical outcomes? We’ll ask this question throughout the post and address it in our conclusion.
Our philosophy in writing this series is that, while it would a bummer to err with any facts, we’d really hate to suffer from any failure of imagination. We’re particularly eager to hear from you in the comments section, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, if you have any questions about the future of digital healthcare that we’ve neglected to ask, or ideas that we’ve neglected to introduce.
Many thanks to Dr. Josh Landy of Figure 1, Dr. Christopher Tran of The Ottawa Hospital, Tyler Hayes of Prime, Justin Fulcher of Ring.md, Jeanne Pinder of ClearHealthCosts, Andy Weissman and Albert Wenger of USV, and Boris Wertz of Version One Ventures for reading drafts of this post. Special thanks to Alexander Pease for contributing to the research for this post during his time at USV.