7wireVentures’ Reactions to JPM 2020

Last week, the 7wire team was out in San Francisco for the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference.  Nearly four-decades old, “JPM” is the preeminent investor conference in healthcare. While it’s always a multi-day grind, and 7wire had a jampacked schedule of meetings and events, we came away super energized. Here’s some of our top observations.

First, Empowering the consumer was a theme woven into tons of conversations.

Whether during formal presentations, quick catch ups in the hallways or evening networking events, this theme was prominent throughout the three days of the conference. This was fantastic to see as it aligns perfectly with our firm’s thesis – cultivating innovation that helps the Informed Connected Health Consumer be more successful in managing to live healthier lives.

Another interesting takeaway was how JPM has become a fundraising event for startups.

The genesis of the conference, and still at its core, are the presentations by large public entities to their investor base. But over the last few years, the event has been evolving. The number of suits and ties scrambling in and around Union Square has diminished. There are a lot more jeans, sneakers and vests. The entrepreneurs and growing companies that we saw and interacted with spanned all sides of the healthcare ecosystem. There were B2B focused solutions just as much as B2C and beyond. We encourage these young companies to continue marking JPM on their calendars and leveraging the time to meet with so many accomplished healthcare investors and industry people.

We also, for the first time in a while, heard whispers throughout the week about a renewed focus on unit economics, path to profitability, and better cash management. In an age of growing funding rounds, climbing valuations, and high burn rates, this was a refreshing new theme. Hopefully, this return to rationality will take further root in 2020 resulting in better investment discipline driven by company fundamentals and less on growth at any cost.

Equally compelling was the focus on Medicaid Innovation, visible through the large audience we observed during our time at The Future of Medicaid Innovation Forum run by HealthTech4Medicaid.

Now in its third year and the largest yet, this event is a great reminder of the huge gaps in care that exist across our country and the important work that still needs to be done to address these pressing issues. Increasingly, this forum stands in stark contrast to the rest of the conference and has become a place to focus on “the other side of the street” when it comes to health and care.

Lastly, nearly everyone was asking each other’s opinions on what the big tech companies (Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google) are going to do next.

This wasn’t a huge surprise, but some of the predictions were increasingly consistent. Whether focused on new, convenient points of care, more holistic care models, or cost-effective solutions to the rising price of healthcare, 2020 will certainly see continued progress on new consumer-driven health services. From our vantage point, Amazon, Apple and others making bigger waves in healthcare is a good thing – so long as their innovations help address longstanding frustrations, especially for the consumer. It’s just a matter of time before one of the household names makes another big announcement.

All in all, this JPM was an encouraging edition and gave us some excellent insights that will help inform 7wire’s work to come.