Lisa SuennenHealthcare | 2020-07-16
Can you summarize your experience in Healthcare investing?
I’ve spent most of the last 22 years as a venture capital investor in healthcare. I spent the ten years prior to that as an entrepreneur, building a healthcare company. I also happen to teach that topic (Healthcare VC) at Berkeley, in the business school.
What are the main things the healthcare sector has learned from the COVID-19 pandemic? What’s going to change now?
I think it learned that it was really bad at responding to crisis. That it was more focussed on the short term rather than the long term. It learned that tele-medicine could be a good thing and that at-home care is probably far more important than people believe. I think it’s learned that sharing data and sharing knowledge on the fly is absolutely essential in times of crisis – probably also essential all the time. Its also learning that you can drive some speed into the discovery process on the life sciences side (at least we think). We have also learned that we haven’t really equipped people with chronic illness to care for themselves at home when you don’t have access to a doctor. So, there is real interest in monitoring and moderating remote care capabilities.
Are there any trends you predict?
In the US, I think we’re going to see increasing use of tele-medicine and remote care even post-pandemic. Also, I think we’re going to see a lot of primary care in retail settings, more than we have in the past, disaggregated from health systems. We’re going to see a lot of home diagnostics evolve out of this and probably a renewed commitment to vaccines. I think there’s a long, long road back to value-based care. We’ve really kind of abandoned it for now and I don’t know that we can go back to it soon.
Is there anything that current startups in the sector are missing?
They often miss two things:
1) How the patient experience will be. And really building from the patient up.
2) The deep understanding of how money flows through the system in the US, and how this can radically impact their adoption.
Any other advice for budding entrepreneurs?
I think it’s to not underestimate the importance of hiring people smarter than you, and not letting your ego stand in the way of hiring the right team. That is so important. Sometimes much more important than the idea itself. We’ve also got to get back to understanding the importance of ethics – in the care that we provide and the data we share. Being an ethical, thoughtful leader is really important. And then follow the money. Understand how money flows through the system. Great ideas do not always equal great investments.