Posts from hacking healthcare

Monthly Match: Planned Parenthood

The House is planning to vote today on a bill that will repeal Obamacare.

Included in that bill is a provision that would prohibit Medicaid from paying for services from Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is an organization dedicated to women’s reproductive health and more broadly women’s healthcare.

It does fantastic work and provides treatment for women who cannot get it otherwise.

Our monthly match efforts are designed to combat the efforts in Washington to undo things that are near and dear to us.

And Planned Parenthood and low cost/free women’s reproductive health care is one of those things.

So today, we are launching a $30k match offer for Planned Parenthood.

Amy, Susan, Joanne, Brad, Albert and I will collectively match $30k of donations made to Planned Parenthood.

Our match offer will end when we reach $30k of collective donations or Friday night at midnight pacific time (May 5th).

Here is how the monthly match works

  1. Go to our match offer page and click the big Donate button
  2. Select any amount (min is $10) and click the big Donate button again
  3. Enter your payment credentials and click the big Donate button again
  4. Click the big Tweet Your Donation button
  5. Once you have done all of that your donation will automatically be matched
  6. If you don’t have Twitter, forward your email receipt to [email protected]

I hope you will join us in supporting Planned Parenthood on this difficult day for all who care about women’s reproductive health and women’s health more broadly.

The Machine Will See You Now

Siddhartha Mukherjee has a good long read in The New Yorker about machine learning and medical diagnosis this week.

In it, he explores whether machines are going to replace radiologists, dermatologists, etc or help them do their jobs better.

He concludes with this observation:

The word “diagnosis,” he reminded me, comes from the Greek for “knowing apart.” Machine-learning algorithms will only become better at such knowing apart—at partitioning, at distinguishing moles from melanomas. But knowing, in all its dimensions, transcends those task-focussed algorithms. In the realm of medicine, perhaps the ultimate rewards come from knowing together. 

We are very excited about the possibilities of using machine learning to help diagnose medical conditions early when they can be treated successfully. We have made a number of investments in this area and I expect we will make many more.

I believe that this is the future of medicine and the sooner we get to it the better off everyone, including the practitioners, will be.

Video Of The Week: Femtech

We have had fintech and now we have femtech.

Ida Tin, founder/CEO of our portfolio company Clue, explains it in less than two minutes.

USV has several femtech investments and we would love to make even more.

Consumer Centric Healthcare

As we think about how to modify the ACA (aka Obamacare) into something different (aka Trumpcare) I would encourage everyone involved to think about one central tenet – put the person/consumer/patient at the center of the system, not the employer, not the insurer, and not the doctor.

I have written a few times about consumer centric healthcare here at AVC. I believe that patients should and will increasingly take control of their health care and that will be a good thing for costs and outcomes.

Our healthcare investment strategy at USV is largely based on this premise. My partner Andy who has done a lot of the critical thinking that has informed our investments in this sector, wrote this post on his personal blog six months ago explaining how we think about this sector.

Technology will have a lot to do with this. If the regulators will allow it. There are laws on the books in many states (NY State is among the worst) stopping patients from going around doctors and getting diagnostic tests, radiology exams, and, can you believe it, eye exams, using technology instead of humans. We must change those laws and I am involved in efforts to do just that. I would encourage others to engage on this issue. It’s important.

Andy Kessler had a good piece a few weeks ago on all of this. He points out that a lot of the data we need to train machine learning models are stuck in data silos controlled by big companies like Epic Systems. If Trump and his people want to make a better healthcare system, they should require Epic and its competitors to provide open APIs into these data silos so that people/patients can get access to their data and authorize third party systems to have it too. That one move would be huge for AI in healthcare, which we need to get costs under control.

Our problems in healthcare are largely structural. We have allowed employers and insurers to finance our healthcare system and take control of it. We need to get people back in control of healthcare. Technology can be the lever that will do that. If we allow it to happen.

Prescriptions On Your Phone

My partner Andy blogged this week about an investment we made earlier this year. It is called NuRx and its an entirely new way to get medications.

Here’s the value proposition (from their website):

nurx

Compare that to this (from Andy’s post):

When you need to see a doctor, there are typically 5 or 6 steps you need to take before a potential outcome: finding the doctor; finding time to schedule the appointment; visiting the doctor; getting a diagnosis and prescription; visiting a pharmacy and paying for your medication.

The efficiency of scrolling through a mobile app, finding the medication you need, filling out some information, and then having the meds show up at your door a few hours later is vastly superior to the process Andy described.

We are looking for services in health care that dramatically improve the user experience of obtaining health care services and lower the cost of providing those services. We also believe that these services, when delivered on the device you have with you all of your waking hours, will over time become an important repository of your personal heath care information. And one you control and have the primary access to.

All of these things; improved user experience, dramatically lower costs, user control over their data, portability of providers, are a direct and aggressive challenge to the existing incumbent health care system.

And I can’t think of any industry that deserves that challenge more than health care.

Feature Friday: iPhone Hearing Test

Last week in a blog post, I wrote:

My daughter’s iPhone can’t deliver a strep test to her, yet. But it can deliver an eye exam and a hearing test.

So I thought I would showcase one of these iPhone based medical tests on feature friday today.

If you download an app on your iPhone called “Mimi Hearing Test” and install it, you can test your hearing with your earbuds.

I did that this morning.

It is just like the hearing tests you do at the doctor’s office. As I suffer from mild hearing loss, I have done this test a bunch in doctors offices over the years.

You sit in a quiet spot and wait for beeps in your right or left ear and when you hear them you press the right or left button.

Mimi Test

The quick test lasts about three or four minutes and when you are done you get results like this:

mimi results

and

mimi results 2

You then store your profile in the system and are then offered additional services:

mimi extra stuff

And, once you’ve done an in-depth test and stored that, you can use the Mimi Music app to enhance the music listening on your iPhone.

I assume that is just the start of a suite of enhanced audio apps and products that Mimi intends to offer.

Full disclosure – The Gotham Gal is an investor in Mimi and therefore I have a financial interest in the company too.

Patient Centric Healthcare

My daughter went to see a doctor a month or so ago. She thought she had strep throat. The doctor checked her out and said that she did not think she had strep. My daughter wanted a strep test but the doctor talked her out of it. A week later, my daughter was back at the doctor with a massive case of strep throat. I told her the lesson of that experience was the the doctor works for her, not the other way around.

I was reminded of that story when I read my partner Andy’s long and wonderful post on USV’s approach to investing in healthcare.

In that post, Andy quotes Jay Parkinson:

People are the CEO of their health, and doctors are just consultants.

And that is what I was explaining to my daughter last month.

The good news is that technology is changing all of this.

My daughter’s iPhone can’t deliver a strep test to her, yet. But it can deliver an eye exam and a hearing test. So I am confident strep will come to a phone someday. And in the process our phones are becoming our electronic medical records. But we own them. That’s a big deal.

Andy gets into it more in his post which I re-tweeted with this observation:

Biodigital

I am really into embed codes. I think the ability to take content and software from one app and inject it into another app is one of the coolest things about the Internet.

Biodigital is a 3D visual model of the human body. Think of it as Google Maps for the body.

I’ve had issues with my MCL in my left knee for the past five or six years. I slightly tore it and although it has healed, I still get pain in it from time to time.

So I went into Biodigital today to take a look at what the MCL actually looks like. Here it is:

That’s pretty cool, right?

If you want to get lost in the human body for the next hour, go check out Biodigital.

Video Of The Week: Why Ida Tin Started Clue

I’m a big fan of our portfolio company Clue which is trying to improve women’s reproductive health and planning with their super popular mobile app.

Here’s a short video (< 2 mins)  that was posted a couple days ago where founder Ida Tin explains why she started Clue.