Health or healthcare: that is the question


Health or healthcare: that is the question

Unraveling the maze of opportunities within the Digital Health in Europe is, right now, one of the holy grails of Venture Capital of Europe, chasing the American dream that amounts to about $ 3.3 billion invested in the industry in the first 9 months of 2015 [see: Rock Health Funding Database], led by veterans such as NEA, Venrock and First Round.

In the US, birthplace of successful innovation in this sector, after five years of below-the-radar activity, the leading companies in the sector proudly display rising valuations and sustainable and mature economic profiles. The newly public Teladoc (market cap of $ 1.0bn at the IPO) and the increasingly solid Practice Fusion (50 million medical records managed), Doximity (over 60% of doctors in US as subscribers) and ShareCare (their RealAge Test, was filled in by over 35 million people), are meaningful examples.

In Europe, on the contrary, only now we see the emergence of serious innovation, which inevitably requires further 3-5 years before becoming interesting in terms of economic impact. Thus, why such a delay? Complexity and differences of system are clear (a large single-system market versus a country-by-country, region-by-region fragmentation), however the key is probably the very name by which we define the industry, sign of the different cultural approach with which we face the chance: the US concept of Digital Health, in Europe becomes Digital Healthcare.

The difference is substantial. What for Europeans is still a digitization of documents, processes and systems (Digital Healthcare), becomes for the US-minded entrepreneur focus on health, on the patient and on the use of available technologies to reconsider the way in which health is protected, monitored, acquainted, enhanced (Digital Health).

Evidence of how this scant contrast results in an inevitable difference in the speed of evolution is the background of the entrepreneurs who today are changing the industry in the two continents: while in Europe the presence of a medical/scientific corner is considered to be essential and the medical categories by which we analyze the investment opportunities are essential as well, typical profile in the US is the one of a former entrepreneur from sectors related to technology and consumer, which leads to the Digital Health for an interest in Health, more than in the Healthcare.

Recent examples include Doctor on Demand founder Adam Jackson, who previously founded and sold local shopping platform MarketSquare, or ZocDoc founder Cyrus Massoumi, who experienced the dot-com collapse while running his OneSizeTooSmall logistic software provider.

It is just matter of time? Probably time is a relevant factor. Yet, to innovate successfully we need to reshape the concept of e-health, attracting top minds and consumer/tech experiences in an industry radically impacting our lives and our economy.

Pietro Puglisi

Posted on 12 Oct 2015