Digital platforms or marketplaces have become indispensable in all aspects of modern living from the way we shop (Amazon), commute (Uber, Lyft), and travel (Expedia, Airbnb); to how we socialize (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), find information (Google), network, do business, and job hunt (LinkedIn, eCommerce, Indeed); buy a house (Zillow); enjoy entertainment (YouTube, Netflix, Spotify); eat (Grub Hub, Open Table); pay bills (Venmo); make decisions (Yelp, Nextdoor); and so on (Apple).
Seven of the top 10 valued companies in the world today are platforms with a combined market cap of $7 trillion. Such a simple concept: a digital platform is an online marketplace matching supply and demand in certain categories creating value by bringing together buyers and sellers directly to facilitate transactions.
You may notice that one critically important aspect of life is not mentioned above. To date no comprehensive and reliable digital platform has emerged in the health care space. There are digital platforms for pieces of the health care puzzle, such as Teledoc for telehealth and GoodRx in consumer pharmaceuticals, but the health care system lacks a system-wide platform.
This is unfortunate since “digital health platforms are uniquely suited to address challenges endemic to healthcare,” observes Seth Joseph of Summit Health, “where most issues ultimately stem from a lack of uniform data and the massive fragmentation that exists both within and among different stakeholder groups, impacting everything from care coordination and care quality across the spectrum.” (For more on the health system’s tech challenges, see my RBJ March 4 column.)
The COVID emergency prompted rapid acceleration of digital health adoption last year as providers raced to ensure access to care for patients and communities. Health systems continue to pursue digital tools that will enhance care and improve efficiency. Yet they struggle to implement comprehensive, cohesive digital strategies across their systems that seamlessly incorporate providers along the continuum while ensuring quality of care and convenience for patients.
The Missing Link
Recognizing the dire need for a digital platform in health care, Pandion Optimization Alliance has made our first corporate venture capital investment of $1 million to seed the creation of one: Marché Health, a trusted source for empowering better decisions around digital health, is establishing the leading comprehensive digital health marketplace that will reduce friction around the adoption and implementation of digital technology in health care.
The Marché Health platform is an independent, unbiased marketplace community convening providers, payers, biopharma, entrepreneurs, investors and consultants to connect directly, learn about products and each other, engage over digital health needs, and explore potential solutions and innovations.
The crucial component of an effective digital platform is information sharing — creating a data-driven environment facilitating evaluation and driving companies to shift focus from selling products to offering outcome-based services to meet customer needs.
Significantly, Marché’s marketplace is infused with a rich database on digital health resources curated by industry experts and gleaned from across independent sources, presented in a sophisticated, unbiased, unfiltered manner. Unvarnished data and increased transparency will help stakeholders objectively assess what products and services are best for their organizations and which partners can best help them advance their digital transformation. Even more important and valuable will be participant and buyer comment and feedback shared on the platform.
Most remarkably, Marché will track and post product performance in terms of patient health outcomes as hospitals, health systems and providers utilize digital solutions. While we are used to real-time ratings for restaurants and auto mechanics, timely performance data in health care is rare. At Marché, in one place, as products and services are being used by others and when appropriate sample size is reached, those seeking to improve care and health will be able to see how and whether products and services are delivering on promised outcomes.
In addition, the Marché marketplace will streamline business functions that are particularly arduous and slow in health care. The new ecosystem will dramatically ease and speed the notoriously grueling procurement process since appropriate hospital and physician leaders will access product information and vendors directly. Acquisition and transaction time and cost will be substantially reduced as Marché screens vendors and posts certification, credentialing, privacy, security, and other legal and regulatory prerequisites to jump-start contracts. And the marketplace opens the door to more innovators and entrepreneurs with potential solutions.
Why Marché Health?
You may be wondering why we are so bullish when the “digital innovators’ club” is replete with those who overpromise today and will not exist tomorrow. Pandion and our Board recognized that the Marché senior team is uniquely qualified and well positioned to successfully implement this complex, visionary enterprise with excellence.
Co-founder Thomas Kluz is an investment partner with Takeda Digital Ventures, has a rich background in medtech startup, and holds degrees in medical informatics and biomedical engineering. He is also a general partner at dRx Capital, a joint venture investment company launched by Novartis and Qualcomm with a capital commitment up to $100 million.
Previously, he held leadership roles in digital health investing at Qualcomm Ventures and Providence Ventures, the $300 million venture capital arm of Providence St. Joseph Health.
Co-founder David Luu, M.D., a cardiac surgeon and health care entrepreneur, has experience building digital platforms. He founded Absolutys, a platform enabling innovators to connect and build ventures and solutions to improve health and save lives internationally. He also founded The Heart Fund, a United Nations-accredited nonprofit fighting cardiovascular disease. Dr. Luu is on a mission to democratize health for the next one billion people and for the past 20 years his work has impacted tens of thousands of lives on three continents. His philanthropy underscores Marché Health’s mission to improve health by enabling organizations to meet the quadruple aim of better outcomes, improved patient and clinician experience, and lower costs.
I met the third co-founder, Emmanuel Fombu, M.D., when he presented at Pandion’s Healthcare Innovations Conference in 2019. Dr. Fombu enthralled the audience of 200 hospital and health system executives with his view of the future of health care.
Focus on the important not the novelty
He discussed how new technologies — big data, genetic engineering, biotech, the internet of things, artificial intelligence — can and will address many problems with our fragmented, frustrating, costly health system. He expressed concern, however, about the prevailing focus and drive to implement those modalities aimlessly. His premise: We should not rush to “do cool stuff” in a disjointed way but, instead, purposefully, wholistically harness and maximize the potential of technology with a laser focus on achieving better outcomes, delivering value, reducing costs, and improving care, health, and quality of life.
Dr. Fombu is a physician, author, speaker, and health care executive turned Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and investment banker. He is an internationally recognized medical futurist and authority on the convergence of digital technologies and health care.
Marché Health will launch in early summer with a platform that, as we have seen with many other industries, can truly transform our health care system and, in doing so, lower costs and improve health. As a first step, we hope to immediately provide a boost for hospitals, health systems and providers that proceed with difficulty after an exhausting 13 months of pandemic and continue battling COVID and its many operational and financial side effects.
For more than 70 years, Pandion has brought cost savings and the latest business solutions to hospitals, health systems and entities all along the continuum of care, first in the Rochester region and now across all 50 states. Now we aggressively pursue digital health solutions and the promise of digital health transformation. The magic bullet would be to sift through the meteor shower of digital commodities bombarding our customers to help them understand what they need, what digital resources are best for them, how they can implement them effectively, and to deliver those solutions at the lowest cost.
Marché Health marketplace will meet that critical need and pave the way for the digital health revolution.
Travis Heider is president and CEO of Pandion Optimization Alliance.c