A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending Blueprint Health’s inaugural demo day here in New York. For the unititiated, Blueprint is an accelerator and member of the Techstars network specifically focused on healthcare startups. Mat and Brad are great guys and really invested in the success of Blueprint and the companies they mentor. Healthcare startups outside of the quantified self movement haven’t really been in the limelight (as far as I can tell) so I was blown away away when I got to the Blueprint offices and was greeted by a packed house and tons of investors that traditionally focus on the consumer internet space.
I have a feeling we’re only seeing the beginning of innovation within healthcare. There’s an incredible amount of opportunity in this space and I hope that the entrepreneurs who face this tough road are courageous enough to keep trudging along even in spite of the fact that it’s a difficult space to work in. The long sales cycles, physician adoption challenges and a host of other things are enough to frustrate someone who expects the pace of innovation in healthcare to mirror that of consumer web services. In a world where super fast $1B sorts of outsized returns dominate headlines (oh hey Instagram!), it’s understandably a tough thing to stay focused on a business that might be a “grind" over the long haul. In light of this recent news about Instagram, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the current consumer internet landscape can relate to other verticals (in addition to the impact it will have on them).
Dennis Crowley worked on Dodgeball and has been thinking about location for most of his career - he started thinking about this problem a while ago but it has only been recently (in the past few years) that he and his team have been able to really bring their solution to the masses. This example is one that is relevant to healthcare, I think. I hope we’ll see more young entrepreneurs take a crack at problems in healthcare and even if their first companies fail, they’ll keep working on effecting change in the space. These are the entreprneuers I want to work with and I’m really excited that others like Brad and Mat at Blueprint Health have committed to working with them over the long haul as well.
Because of the nature of incumbents, regulation and other factors, it’s unclear whether or not we’ll see a Google or Facebook sized exit in the heathcare IT world. However, I am hopeful that we’ll see a a number of companies have a big impact, help cut a ton of waste and save millions of lives in the process. I hope that there are a bunch of entrepreneurs willing to “go for it" and endure the pain of the process in the hopes of changing the industry. And I hope that there are also investors out there who are willing to weather the storm and back the entrepreneurs who may be a bit idealistic now but who have the fresh perspective necessary to succeed in the face of the challenges we face in the long term. Their first idea may not be a huge hit, but the next few very well might.
PS - I realize it might seem hypocritical that I’m writing this post as someone working for a consumer Internet company. While that is a fair point, I’m still involved in healthcare on a number of fronts and I strongly believe that experience in a consumer oriented internet company coupled with my healthcare background can actually help me provide perspective in healthcare that is unique (hence this blog post). Right now, though, my skill set is best served with the greatest team in NYC building an awesome product that I love. :)