For my health care tidbits this week, I noticed cruising the huge exhibit floor at HLTH that we may be on our way to a tipping point in the “will Digital Health et al save us” discussion. Several very sharp investors (Hemant Taneja & Julie Yoo spring to mind) are writing enormous checks, based on their theses. If you haven’t seen Julie’s latest it’s well worth a look as she describes the market entry strategies for these digital health companies. Many of the very highly funded companies that are building tech for health care are either explicitly (Zus) or implicitly (Olive, Commure) building platforms for new tech services companies to run on. But they are also selling them to the incumbents. In fact Jefferson Health essentially said it’s going to run its services on tech from General Catalyst funded companies.
The question is, are we going to see a re-run of Microsoft and IBM. You’ll recall the story. IBM dominates the mainframe market, and lets a small start up build the operating system for its entry into the small PC market. Of course that startup took its OS and allowed multiple others to build on it and it became the market dominator growing as the PC becomes the future.
Will these new arrivistes “hollow out” the combo of Epic and incumbent providers that dominate American health care? Or will they be swallowed up by the system and vanish without a trace. I don’t know the answer. But this is the first time in 20 years we can seriously ask the question.