Endless blogs, posts, and commentaries on COVID-19 have been written — what to do, how to do it, when to do it, why to do it. To those lists of recommendations, we really have nothing clever to add as in recent weeks, the only thing we truly know is that what we did yesterday is literally not what we are doing today or what we will do tomorrow — we are in the midst of an epic change in which the dynamic and aggressive intrusion of an invisible enemy is redefining everything we do in our lives and everything we have taken for granted.
COVID-19’s economic impact will be vast, cutting horizontally and vertically across most if not all industries. Alongside this, we are likely to witness enormous societal consequences, the scope of which will be difficult to quantify in the aftermath. Panic is paralyzing, unproductive and often destructive — we should avoid it at all costs. Rather, we want to focus our efforts on the opportunity that lies in the global human experiment which this hostile virus has declared upon us forcing us into our homes, finding new ways to work together, new ways to innovate, new ways to solve problems. We would like to attempt to align us all with the vibe conveyed in a well-known quote: “In the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity” (Albert Einstein).
For over a decade, Triventures has actively supported the transformation of the healthcare industry through its investments in disruptive medical devices and data driven solutions which converge the best of health and non-health domain expertise. We have learned in our journey at the fund that meaningful changes to the industry often arise from unexpected places and we believe that the COVID-19 episode is about to deliver such a change, but at a magnitude we have not witnessed to date.
By way of illustration, we will start with a non-healthcare related example. On the heels of COVID-19, overnight we have all been confined to work from home (WFH) and this has compelled Triventures and many other organizations to become avid users of Zoom (camera on!) and team collaboration platforms. Tools we hesitated to deploy for years have now in zero time become our new way of working and when we return to the office, there will be no turning back — ‘normal’ has been redefined. COVID-19 has given us a kick in the butt and forced us to adopt digital solutions which long ago could been a source of value for our organizations but being set it on our ways, we pushed back…until we could push-back no longer. This is what we believe COVID-19 is doing to healthcare these days and particularly to data driven healthcare solutions.
A few examples of how COVID-19 is already pushing healthcare beyond its comfort zone circa February 2020:
- Remote Care & Monitoring: For years the industry has discoursed about the vision to move care and monitoring from the hospital to the home. While there is no lack of innovative solutions and infrastructure to support this vision, adoption has been slower than desired. With efforts to contain the spread of the virus, coupled with a healthcare system burdened with quantities of patients that it is unequipped to support on premise, suddenly, these solutions are in high demand. Companies such Earlysense which delivers a continuous contactless sensor platform for vital sign monitoring enabling early detection of deterioration has been instrumental in minimizing contact between medical staff and quarantined patients and can be extended to the home for continued monitoring. Alongside the reignited market awareness for such solutions, with the wave of its magic wand, last week, Medicare announced the expansion of telehealth services, a crucial component to promote adoption of such solutions. Providers will now be reimbursed for virtual care at the same rate they are for in-person visits allowing patients to communicate virtually with their physicians, avoid unnecessary office or hospital visits and lower their risk for contracting the virus. No doubt valuable during these pandemic times, but irrespective of COVID-19, such solutions signaled already a decade ago where healthcare was headed and today more than ever demonstrate that the future of healthcare is NOW!
- Data Collaboration: We have known for years that data is gold and in 2020, we are still only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of tapping into the tremendous value that data can deliver to healthcare. Accessing data has historically been a long process laden with excruciating bureaucracy and commercial manipulations. But now, in the race to contain the spread of this stubborn virus and discover a vaccination, there is an unprecedented willingness to share and open access to the data which health systems are collecting. There is tremendous inbound demand for innovation around COVID-19 and in turn, more flexibility for data collaboration. Companies such as Tableau have leveraged its community to crowd source COVID-19 data and offer free access to this data resource while in parallel, health systems are making real efforts to democratize access to data for the benefit of COVID-19 innovation. When health systems will see what data sharing can do to promote good health and contain costs around COVID-19, there is a good chance that the future will be less restrictive around data access and collaboration.
- Community Platforms: In a time of social distancing which requires us to stay away from one another with the objective of halting the spread of disease, we are separated from our regular cohorts (work, school, gym, friends and more). We believe that this instruction of physical distancing will drive a surge in the consumption of community driven health and wellness platforms such as Vi and Peloton, as well as mental health support solutions such as Talkspace, BetterHelp and others. The need for social interaction on the one hand coupled with an entire population being forced into uncharted territories with a new daily routine is expected to drive both a need for emotional support as well as for human interaction, anyway you can get it.
As we progress together in this COVID-19 challenge around the globe, much in the way that have seen the shift in our ways of working (WoW) in the office to WFH, we expect to see similar and even more dramatic shifts in the WoW in healthcare. You do what you did until you are forced to do what you should. Despite the fact that digital health has been around for about a decade, even some of the industry’s more established tools such as telehealth have often been perceived as “star treky” by the public. The present viral pandemic has certainly made a case for mass implementation of virtual tools — pushing the entire healthcare industry into the public spotlight. We anticipate that information disseminated to the public through digital remote communication, robotic care at a distance and data driven aids will emerge as a crucial component not only for the present situation but will also become a common component for people in health in general.
While this crisis is real and not to be slighted in any way, the upheaval that COVID-19 is causing in healthcare is also driving step-function changes that in our regular way of existence may normally have taken a decade to implement. An unexpected reality, force majeure, has elevated the importance and value that data driven healthcare solutions can deliver to the industry and we are certain that this event will result in a dramatic change in healthcare. It is our duty to find the opportunities that are hidden in this crisis and continue to pursue much needed changes in the healthcare industry.
Triventures is a global, multi-stage venture capital firm investing in opportunities that transform healthcare. We identify cross-industry breakthroughs that converge the best in class in health and non-health technologies such as insuretech and fintech for healthcare, e-commerce and cyber for healthcare, community driven genomics, health data marketplaces and more.
Leveraging its global footprint in Tel Aviv and the Silicon Valley, the top two geographical clusters of innovation in the world, Triventures has strong partnerships with healthcare industry leaders, providers, insurance groups, telcos and consumer electronics enterprises which enable it to contribute significant value to its portfolio companies when commercially integrating into markets.