Category Archives: Uncategorized

Don't Repeal Healthcare Reform

By Bryan Roberts

This week, Republicans voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Healthcare Reform). While this vote was largely symbolic (the democrat-led Senate won€™t pass it and President Obama would be sure to veto), it€™s difficult to watch. I wrote an article that was published by Forbes, Healthcare Reform: Rhetoric vs. Reality, in support of the ACA because it€™s clear that many do not comprehend its tremendous power to catalyze change throughout our healthcare system.

Our healthcare system is broken (badly) and we need our greatest minds solving this problem.

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Why are VC's so scared of hospitals?

By Brian Ascher and Bryan Roberts

There is much conventional wisdom in venture capital. One such belief is that hospitals are a really horrible market for tech startups to pursue. Back in 2002 when we invested in Vocera, an innovative communications system for hospitals (think Star Trek), many other firms had looked at the deal and passed. Although this was the company€™s third round of financing, the company was still pre-revenue and pre-launch, and this was the first round raised subsequent to their strategic shift from a horizontal solution to one vertically focused on hospitals. Most VCs ran from it. Following are some of the reasons potential investors gave for hating the hospital market then, most of which persist as concerns, often valid, today:

  1. Hospitals are highly budget constrained.
  2. Most hospitals don€™t have profits motives and are not subject to the same competitive forces as for-profit businesses.

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Building Healthcare IT Companies: 11 Insider Insights

By Brian Ascher and Bryan Roberts

Having participated in healthcare IT for the last 10+ years, we decided to collect and share some lessons learned. The list is by no means exhaustive, so let us know your thoughts €“ where you disagree, what you would add, etc.

  1. The product must be a true €œhave-to-have€, not a €œnice-to-have€. Any healthcare IT product needs to solve an important problem for a defined customer base (providers, payors, patients) and this is where lots of companies go astray. The product needs to help someone enough for them to be compelled to adopt it, while they are busy worrying about a lot of other things, and it is not enough to have a product that helps out the €œsystem€. If you can€™t convince yourself that it is one of the top three things that your specific customer is concerned with, forget it.
  2. Healthcare is actually an aggregation of many small €œmarkets€. While the overall healthcare market is measured in billions €“ if not trillions €“ very few needs, ideas or businesses can span the entirety. Many companies/ideas are only applicable to a subset (breast cancer, arthritis, heartburn, etc.) of healthcare or require significant re-work as one moves from one disease area to another €“ think content for different diseases. This dynamic also substantially impacts some of the revenue stream opportunities and the critical mass needed to make a business viable. For example, pharma advertising for a given drug is targeted at patients with a specific disease, not all healthcare consumers, and so the number of overall users needed to amass a specific target population and access that ad revenue, is many multiples of that target market. Continue reading