As the covid-19 crisis continues to create instability across the healthcare system, it could push the needle toward widespread adoption of remote patient care and telemedicine.
Some investors, like Oak HC/FT, are already well positioned. In fact, the healthcare and fintech specialist is finding that many of the services and technologies offered by its existing portfolio companies are precisely what the healthcare system needs right now.
“We have a portfolio of healthcare companies and fintech businesses that are part of the business solution,” said Andrew Adams, co-founder and general partner of the Greenwich, Connecticut, venture firm.
Adams launched Oak HC/FT alongside Annie Lamont and Patricia Kemp in 2014 as a spinout from Oak Investment Partners.
Existing investments such as VillageMD, FireFly Health, Galileo and Paladina Health, for instance, are all helping their customers on the front line, Adams said. In their own ways, each of these companies can get to patients through their relationships in a way that doesn’t compromise health and safety, he said.
FireFly Health, for example, is a virtual primary care provider, while Galileo provides 24/7 immediate mobile access to medical care and expertise.
Learning from the coronavirus is sure to have a long-term impact on the healthcare industry – acting in many ways as a watershed event, he explained. If you’re a healthcare provider without virtual or tele-health tools, the question will be: “If you don’t have a solution like this, why not?”
“Even though there are times where hospitals are maligned, they are going to be a huge part of the solution here,” Adams said. “Once we are through this – which we will be – it’s an opportunity for hospitals to improve their efficiency and responsiveness.”
Within tele-health, one particular segment seeing high demand in the wake of coronavirus is behavioral health, he said. Oak HC/FT is already seeing this being reflected across four of its portfolio companies: Emilio Health, US Healthvest, Therapy brands and Quartet Health.
“We’re all impacted by this in the country and world. It’s affecting the way we work and live, and it’s affecting family dynamics. Clearly, mental health is thrust more into the forefront,” he said.
While behavioral health and socioeconomic issues were contributing to a need for telemed pre-outbreak, demand for virtual care is only heightening now. For example, Adams said, “How are adolescents reacting? They are not at schools right now.”
In the wake of covid-19, Adams said other areas of the healthcare industry will likely be triggered into action as bottlenecks in the system become increasingly clear – be it from a supply chain, pharma or lab diagnostics perspective. “How quickly can we respond in times like this? All of those processes are going to be heavily innovated following this.”
For example, Adams said, there’s going to be increasing focus on virtual clinical trials – an area that’s already burgeoning. “If you need to do a lot of in-person clinical trials but you can’t, how do you keep those processes working?”
As a firm, Adams said Oak HC/FT has “not hunkered down in any way,” but rather, is actively looking to put money to work into solutions for the pressing problems for enterprises of all sizes.
Oak HC/FT in August raised its largest fund to date, collecting $800 million for its third vehicle.
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