Making the U.S. healthcare system sustainable in the future is only possible if there is a recognition that many chronic diseases can be prevented, but it is a complex challenge. The strong correlation between chronic disease outcomes and mental health disorders underscores the disconnect of working to improve chronic disease outcomes without addressing mental health. Innovation also requires correcting healthcare disparities in areas of inequity in quality of, access to, and affordability of preventive remedies. The connecting tissue to all of this is a holistic view of body, mind, and spirit as the pathway to good health, wellbeing, and longevity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the costs associated with caring for people with chronic disease and mental health conditions comprises 90% of the nation’s $3.8 trillion spend on healthcare. Because of this, investors are increasingly seeking out wellness companies that foster harmony or life balance to drive health and wellness. The application of this approach connects the masses with medical professionals and services in a low friction and economical manner through enhanced user experiences driven by things such as home health, telehealth, and digital health solutions that reduce costs and ease time constraints for users by solving systematic healthcare inefficiencies.
In particular, investors will increasingly seek out companies that disrupt old models and promote a baseline of wellbeing via innovations that mitigate and/or prevent increased medical and social costs of poor health through affordable solutions that deliver flexible, easy access and customized services that contribute to improved outcomes.
Advances in science, medicine, and technology have created a tremendous capability to treat and cure chronic disease, but the wisdom of “prevention is better than cure,” is often lost in the process. With its focus on treatments and cures, the perplexing, profit-driven, one-size-fits-all model for health care in the United States in particular, fails to deliver the benefits of fundamental wellness that result from early attention to disease prevention. What’s more, in the last two years the sudden shift to working from home, social distancing, and isolation has led to declines in health and wellbeing through a troubling mix of perceived positives in the form of flexibility and increased free time, and alarming negatives in the form of burnout, depression, and reduced physical activity. This new normal makes good health even harder to maintain, and the companies who address this situation are potentially evermore valuable.
Creative health innovations are key to delivering health for all
The World Health Organization Council on the Economics of Health for All published their manifesto last September in the run-up to the October 2021 G20 summit in Rome. The creation of the Council, and the goals laid out for the G20 Summit, signal a sea change in policy design and a related realignment of sectors and financing to prioritize public health. This paradigm shift in health security places human wellness and the common good as a priority for economic policy design. Creative health innovations will be an important part of the ecosystem.
We actively seek investment offerings that include choices positioned at the intersection of healthy living, healthy lifestyle, and efficient delivery of healthcare services. These are companies that enhance financial, community, and corporate wellness. Companies that illustrate the potential of these wellness investment philosophies include HelloBetter, Iris Telehealth, and Talkiatry, who are a group of companies pioneering the tech-enabled, customized mental health space. Another group of companies in this area are Cara Care, FoodMarble, and Ombre, who are leading the in-home gut biome testing space. Finally, you have JOON, Limeade, and Headspace for Work, who are charging forward in areas of corporate personalized wellness (Talkiatry and Ombre are portfolio companies of Relevance Ventures).
Talkiatry clears two major pain points for patients—wait times and affordability—with online providers that accept major insurance plans. Ombre self-testing delivers affordable, easy-to-use kits that remove the main barriers to getting useful health insights: access to gut biome testing, testing costs, and lack of information and actionable suggestions. And JOON is helping companies create healthy and productive work settings—from health to lifestyle—for their employees.
Balance— an ancient concept to balance modern life
At home disease prevention and health management has the potential to dramatically reduce costs for insurers, Medicare and the consumer. Scientific evidence suggests healthy diets, physical activity, and eliminating tobacco use can possibly prevent and control chronic diseases. Recognizing the symbiotic relationship between chronic diseases and mental wellbeing highlights a need for common sense solutions that embrace a holistic, more balanced-oriented approach that has proven successful in nature for hundreds of thousands of years; solutions that may achieve better whole patient outcomes and a reduced total cost of care for the users, companies, and the total healthcare system.
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