October 3, 2019
3 CEOs Shaking Up Health Tech: IPOS, Unbundling, and Gut Data
For three days each Fall, the Santa Clara Convention Centers is transformed into a healthcare wonderland, complete with 1,000 of your closest friends in health tech. The on-stage sessions, curated and hosted by Indu Subaiya and Matthew Holt of Health 2.0 fame, are always a hit. Their finely tuned sense of how the past informs the future has been cultivated over decades of paying attention, and being in the audience at the Health 2.0 Annual Fall Conference is a crash course in healthcare transformation.
Josh Stevens with Jane Sarasohn-Kahn
One audience favorite is a session called Fireside Chats: Executive Views (the session formerly known as 3 CEOs). It’s a series of pithy, back-to-back personal interviews between a notable CEO and a prominent journalist. Lively, personal, and slightly unscripted, this year’s lineup featured: Glen Tullman (of Livongo, that IPO’d last month), Jonathan Bush (after a controversial departure from athenahealth last year) and Josh Stevens (of DayTwo, who recently raised a solid sum of $50 million.) Here are the highlights…. Jane Sarahsohn-Kahn, healthcare economist who has been covering the evolving industry for over 15 years (and who just published her first book), sat down with Josh Stevens, who you might remember from past Health 2.0 conferences when he ran employee incentive company called Keas. Today he is President of DayTwo, a company that “wants you to send them your shit.” Yes, you read that right. It turns out that human excrement is a rich hiding place for data. DayTwo launched at Health 2.0 in 2016 and was founded after the results of a massive nutritional study pointed them towards some surprising new data. For one: contrary to existing science and thought, food does not react the same way in every body. Secondly, the combination of foods consumed can help offset potential reactions. At the moment, DayTwo is serving people with Diabetes and Glycemia. Their clinicians are literally writing prescriptions for dietary plans and food, not pills. Best takeaway of the interview? “Carbs aren’t the enemy.”
Jonathan Bush with Matthew Holt
It’s been some time since we last saw Jonathan on the Health 2.0 stage. Always the rabble rouser, you can count on Jonathan to heckle the elephant in the room, drop major truth bombs, and get everyone laughing, while simultaneously breaking down complex healthcare concepts into fiercely digestible terms. It’s a unique skill and this year there was a lot to talk about. Since his controversial departure from athenahealth, Jonathan has quietly continued to disrupt the world of healthcare as we know it. For instance, unbundling was a term that came up a few times. To help explain what he means, he compared health insurance to car insurance, by asking us to imagine what it would be like to bill for a tank of gas only to receive a partial payment weeks later everytime you filled up the tank. It would be awful. It would be infuriatingly tedious. Such is how he parallels bundled payments in healthcare. These days he’s involved with Firefly Health, a company that is “doing primary care how I wish primary care would be.”
Glen Tullman with Jonah Comstock
If you read MobiHealthNews, then you definitely read Jonah Comstock. He is prolific in his work and is a reliable source for just about anything happening in healthcare at any given moment. This made him the perfect opposite to Livongo’s Glen Tullman, who originally launched Livongo on the Health 2.0 stage back in 2016. This year Glen is fresh off the IPO trail and was ready to discuss the urgency of giving power and trust back to the patient. “It’s not your job to fix them,” he said, “but to empower them. Give them information, give them the tools, and trust them. They will do a fine job.” He went on to describe the three C’s on consumer behavior: Content, like Google; Community, like Facebook; and Commerce, like Amazon. But then he added a fourth: Care, like Livongo. That’s impressive company, Glen! If he’s right, and I think he might be, then Livongo is on track to turn chronic disease management on its head. “The patients aren’t patient anymore. They want health care to feel like everything else.”
Glen, Jonathan, and Josh’s interviews each represent key trends in healthcare today:
(1) new understandings of the microbiome as a pathway to understand whole health,
(2) unbundling may be the next opportunity,
(3) consumerization of healthcare will continue to grow. With that, keep your eye out for more on these topics!