Once again, the HIMSS annual conference in early March was abuzz with a who’s who of healthcare IT – established enterprises alongside those well on their way. The conference remains a proving ground for the technologies most likely to succeed in transforming healthcare, and this year was no exception. My team walked away with much inspiration—and lots of pipeline and investing ideas based on our assessment of healthcare’s future trends.
While mature companies dominated the upstairs floors, the conference’s lower level was alive with early and growth stage startups on the brink of disruption (or, at the very least, distinction)—so that’s where I spent my time. Compared with recent years, I noted that many are coming into the marketplace with previously unseen levels of maturity and potential. By count, I had the opportunity to meet personally with the leaders of 18 companies and stopped by to talk to many, many more. The CEOs I met proved themselves much more poised for prime time and ready to benefit from investment, than those I encountered in years past.
As I talked to these promising leaders, I found myself heeding the strong signals they were sending. The approach taken by this year’s crop of young companies starts to foretell the future of care innovation in healthcare’s future.
Here are my top takeaways on the healthcare’s future trends in IT:
Pinpointed use cases are (finally) coming into vogue. Healthcare IT start-ups are, blissfully, no longer a bunch of full platform wannabes trying to boil the ocean and do it all. Many companies are moving further into the ecosystem and pinpointing use cases and solutions with specific benefits across the care spectrum, from artificial intelligence (AI) to population health-based wellness tools. There’s plenty of room for each category and provider to succeed on its own merits by serving a specific niche, and the technology is finally starting to catch up, which means we’re getting closer to seeing more products in action. That’s exciting to see.
The buzz terms are not hyperbole anymore, they’re investment ready. Innovation in areas like personalized medicine and interoperable platforms are coming into fruition in terms of productized technology that can drive ROI and improve outcomes. This promise supports a greater number of early-stage companies in the marketplace, as we saw at HIMSS, as they compete for a place at the top based primarily on the merits of their technologies. We now anticipate the companies we invest in will grow very quickly into our investment criteria as it relates to run rate because they already have clients waiting for solutions. While there’ s still some execution risk, we’re feeling bullish about our healthcare deals, particularly from a revenue perspective.
Precision medicine is a real approach for personalized care and disease treatment. At HIMSS, it was clear that precision medicine is really starting to take off. The cost to actually analyze DNA is so cheap now and the ability to drive results through both pharma and info-tech solutions to individuals based on their personal DNA is remarkable. This approach takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person to allow doctors and researchers to predict more accurately which treatment and prevention strategies for a particular disease will work in which groups of people. Researchers are also working to understand and solve the problem of drug resistance that can limit how well targeted therapies work. Many researchers believe that precision medicine is the key to unlocking these secrets, and will help patients respond to treatments for serious diseases like cancer.
Technology is no longer its own goal—it’s the means to cure and enhance lives. As many of these startups mature, increased adoption of their technologies will enhance and expand the actionable data that further informs treatment paradigms—creating a virtuous cycle that ultimately benefits patients. As technology aligns with the idea of payment models built on value-based medicine, we’ll see remarkable outcomes for patients. And yes, while artificial intelligence is cool, it’s also enabling researchers to read data and map treatments to patients’ genes, so care providers can make informed decisions. In HCIT, patients are the real winners.
My partners and I are bullish on the growth stage investment opportunities available in healthcare IT based on healthcare’s future trends that we’ve identified. We will continue to seek out and partner with CEOs that have created platforms that improve patient outcomes, enable hospitals to improve workflow efficiencies, and technologies that provide decision support, interoperability capabilities, and population health management tools. We saw lots that we liked at HIMSS and are getting ready for some amazing investments in the near future based on these trends.