Connected Health — what’s getting us excited at Wittington Ventures

After a year of heads-down research, investing, and building here at Wittington Ventures (“WV”), we figured it was high time to introduce our thinking in the healthcare space. At WV, our mandate is to make great venture investments through backing world-class entrepreneurs building impressive businesses across the areas of Commerce, Food Tech and Healthcare. In this post, we’d like to focus on the latter and share how we are thinking about healthcare and the types of opportunities that excite us.

COVID has certainly changed a lot about the world and in particular about the healthcare startup ecosystem. Aside from rapid growth in telehealth and digital pharmacy, we are seeing a surge of funding in areas such as mental health that were relatively underserved prior to the pandemic. We are also seeing many themes that have remained unchanged. One big one for us is that healthcare companies that are using data or deep scientific expertise are still at the forefront of driving meaningful change.

Well before COVID, we’d heard (as I’m sure almost all in the healthcare realm have) that the “system is broken” in North America. To start, costs are spiralling. Affordability, whether from the perspective of a patient or a payor, is a key concern. Chronic morbidities such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease are pervasive throughout the population. Access to care is not equal, and the quality of it (including but not limited to outcomes) is not easily measured or rewarded.

These are all large, complex and challenging issues and we are consistently inspired by the ingenuity that entrepreneurs are applying to tackle them. At WV, we have identified several categories of startups that are addressing the core issues in healthcare and while many differ in their approach, they are all interconnected. This is precisely why we’ve named our focus area ‘Connected Health’.

We see the Connected Health landscape as a combination of two key pillars: Software & Informatics, and IP & Science. We have organized our Connected Health “map”, below, accordingly. Within each pillar, there are several segments that each address a broad category of healthcare solutions(e.g. Novel Forms of Delivery). Inside each segment, there are sub-segment areas that typically target one of four primary stakeholders in healthcare: patient, provider, payor or life sciences company. While startups can certainly span both the Software & Informatics and IP & Science pillars, they usually lead with one area over the other.

WV’s Connected Health Map: We have two main pillars, Software & Informatics and IP & Science
A virtuous cycle between Data & Informatics and IP & Sciences companies exists

In our Connected Health landscape, the two pillars are closely linked. Software & Informatics companies generate data that drives new science, which drives new and improved clinical interventions and workflows, which in turn generates more data. The generation and capture of data is paramount to making this cycle as efficient as possible.

Let’s dig in to some more details on what types of companies we are exploring under each pillar.

Software & Informatics Based Companies

There are three segments of companies that WV is exploring in detail: Novel Forms of Delivery, Infrastructure & Operations, and Data & Insights

Novel Forms of Delivery: Companies in this segment are helping build the next generation of healthcare services. This sector has become quite competitive and there are many large-scale players. As a result, we are particularly excited about players tackling niche areas with sufficient scale and that are using technology in an innovative way to power their offerings. The following sub-segments fall under this category:

  • Digital Pharmacy (e.g. Capsule, Nurx)
  • Telehealth (e.g. Teledoc, Nurx)
  • Next Generation Retail Concepts (e.g. Tend, Lively)
  • Senior & Home Care Innovations (e.g. Honor, Caribou)
  • Chronic Care Management (e.g. Livongo, Virta Health)
  • Direct-to-Consumer Health (e.g. Sesame)

Infrastructure & Operations: Companies in this segment are helping providers and payors with back-end tasks in order to support the services ecosystem. We especially like companies that are positioned to address not just the incumbent provider landscape but also the novel forms of delivery providers mentioned above, powering the next-generation of infrastructure. This includes areas such as data management, patient triaging, and tech stacks for virtual care. The sub-segments within Infrastructure & Operations are:

  • Patient Scheduling (e.g. Zocdoc, Weave)
  • Care Coordination (e.g. Patientping)
  • Fraud & Abuse Management (e.g. Anomaly)
  • Electronic Health Records (e.g. Epic, Cerner)
  • Health Data Connectivity (e.g. 1Up Health, HealthGorilla)
  • Insurance Eligibility & Administration (e.g. Noyo, Onederful)
  • Purchasing & Supplies (e.g. Premier)

Data & Insights: Companies in this segment are using data from healthcare events to drive new insights. We are particularly excited about companies that have a clear path to reimbursement and go-to-market. This includes the following sub-segments:

  • Financing & Price Transparency (e.g. CareCredit, GoodRx)
  • Provider Selection & Reviews (e.g. Healthgrades, Opencare)
  • Clinical Trial Management (e.g. Trialspark, Science37)
  • Clinical Decision Support (e.g. Viz.ai, Eyenuk)

IP & Science Based Companies

Under the IP & Science pillar, WV has identified two segments in which companies are building the foundation for tomorrow’s clinical protocols: Detection & Diagnosis and Innovative Treatments.

Detection & Diagnosis: Companies in this segment, as the name suggests, are building innovative technologies to help diagnose and detect disease and ailments. We are particularly excited about companies that are positioned well to serve fast growing novel forms of care delivery, such as the insurgence of retail clinics and telehealth. Sub-segments here include:

  • Lab Diagnostics (e.g. Karius, ThermoFisher)
  • Point of Care Diagnostics — including home and smaller clinics (e.g. EverlyWell, Truvian)
  • Genomics (e.g. 23andMe, OwnOme)
  • Disease Detection (e.g. Grail, Everest)

Innovative Treatments: Companies in this area are building the next generation of tools for care: drugs, devices, apps, and protocols that will arm providers and patients to improve health. We are excited about companies that are lowering the cost of treatment, whether it is through a more efficient drug discovery process or a breakthrough care management program with proven results. Sub-segments within Innovative Treatments include:

  • Digital Therapeutics (e.g. Pear, Limbix)
  • Behavior Management Tools (e.g. Fitbit, Noom)
  • Drug Discovery (e.g. Moderna, Pfizer)
  • Medical Technologies /Devices (e.g. Biomet, Abbott)
  • Synthetic Biology (e.g. Arzeda, Ginkgo Bioworks)
  • Personalized Medicine (e.g. Notable, InsightRx)

In Closing…

WV is excited about the breadth of companies that fall into our connected health ecosystem. We see many of the areas above as catalysts for changing our strained healthcare systems and firmly believe that what connects all of these disparate parts of the healthcare ecosystem together is data. We believe that valuable healthcare companies have to be data-driven to succeed. Stay tuned for our continued thoughts on parts of the healthcare ecosystem that we are excited about.

Comments? Different perspectives? Building something interesting you’d like to share with us? Please reach out to khayes@wittingtonventures.com and mgupta@wittingtonventures.com — we’d love to chat!