Frontier Take-aways from the 2018 JPMorgan Healthcare Conference
Every January more than 50,000 people in healthcare, technology and finance descend on San Francisco to attend the popular and influential JPMorgan Healthcare Conference. My partner, Andrew Lindner, and I attend the conference to listen to leading voices on the changing landscape of healthcare, learn about new and emerging technology solutions and meet with tech entrepreneurs to discuss potential growth partnerships.
A central theme that dominated JPM 2018 was the acceleration of a consumer-centric healthcare industry. As the burden of paying for healthcare continues to shift to care recipients themselves, consumers are becoming more aware and engaged, and they’re demanding price transparency, more information on quality of care and treatment options, and tools that can help them make better decisions regarding their own care.
Our conversations with providers and health systems at JPM led us to conclude that they are reacting to the seismic shift in the industry as the new strategic imperative for survival. This shift is particularly difficult for these large organizations that are traditionally not known for being consumer-focused. Generating a palpable buzz at JPM 18 were solutions for telemedicine, patient engagement, patient experience, and patient financing. These consumer-centered solutions are reducing the friction of change in the industry and will play an increasingly important role going forward.
Frontier has and will continue to recognize the shift to consumer-centricity in healthcare. As a growth equity investor, we are enthusiastic to partner with companies that have solutions that providers and payers are using to expedite change in their own business models in this new consumer-centric industry. In 2015 we invested in a company called HealthiestYou, a digital solution for employers and health plans that puts consumers in the center of their own healthcare. HealthiestYou was acquired by Teladoc in 2016. In 2017, we invested in AccessOne, which offers a technology-enabled solution that providers use to offer patient payment options that remove the financial barriers to needed healthcare while ensuring hospitals are reimbursed for services provided.
For technology-focused growth equity providers like Frontier, JPM 18 was a stark reminder that there are significant opportunities to invest in the sector. But at the same time, we were struck by the level of noise from solution providers offering potential tech-based silver bullets for healthcare providers, payers, and consumers and in too many cases, too little clarity around four fundamental questions:
What problem do you solve?
How do you solve this problem?
Who pays you to solve the problem?
Why are you different?
In healthcare IT, there is no panacea. But a good start is being able to clearly understand a company’s value proposition from their succinct and well-articulated answers to these basic questions. Too often healthcare entrepreneurs fail to keep it simple resulting in not only a confused potential investor but also a confused prospective customer, partner, and team that ultimately results in stifled growth.
Frontier invests in businesses that provide solutions to other businesses and use technology to do it. Our experience in a range of verticals helping growth-stage software companies simplify go-to-market approaches and improve focus appears to be especially relevant in healthcare. While we’re proud of our accomplishments in healthcare, we believe our experience building software businesses in a range of verticals can provide an outsider’s view to help healthcare technology companies turn down the volume and turn up the clarity.