Life, Leadership, and Inspiration in a Post-COVID World- Part 1 of 3

2020 looks very different than we expected. Healthcare conversations that were centered around presidential candidates’ platforms and pending Supreme Court decisions have been replaced with a war against Covid-19 and debates over when and how to restart the economy. Socializing at healthcare conferences and summer events has turned to social distancing or ceaseless sweatpants-wearing video calls. Never could we have imagined that this world in which we are now living would be the opening salvo for the new decade.

Through the pandemic, the challenges and shortcomings of our healthcare system have been exposed, gnawing at our very core. Even as we have started to implement strategies and solutions to address these problems, there are still a great deal of unknowns.

How to move forward? What role will we all play in this dance against disease? Our 7wireVentures team solicited advice on these topics from experts across the healthcare industry and curated a three-part series with their insights. Below you will find Part 1 where our leaders share their perspectives on society and healthcare, as well as thoughts from our team.

On Society

The coronavirus will reshape society in lasting ways. These changes will be seen in how we work, travel, receive care, and engage with other humans. For many, this has been (and will be) one of the most devastating events faced during their adult lives. At this point, it is still hard to conceptualize how society will recover and “return to normal” with now hundreds of thousands of lives lost globally.

But we are hopeful. Society has not backed away. Instead, we have demonstrated our capacity and willingness to adapt and leverage our ingenuity in more sophisticated ways. The pandemic has also revived and affirmed our appreciation for human interaction. Our healthcare leaders, too, are hopeful.

Bill Taranto, President Merck Global Health Innovation Fund: ”It seems that the concept of community has been shifting significantly over the past decade, from physical/geographic communities to affinity-driven virtual communities.  It’s hard to see that changing significantly.  However, there are some intriguing observations from shelter in place that indicate a divide might emerge.  In some cases, you have individuals that have rediscovered a sense of family and physical community.  Conversely you have others who have moved exclusively online.”

Paul LaViolette, Partner SV Life Sciences, Former COO Boston Scientific: “Community ties tighten when the collective group is threatened, which a pandemic undeniably poses.   Conversely, mandatory social distancing both directly breaks communal interactions but also sows fear of the unknown and inherent distrust of others.  Absent a disruption in the current pattern, which only widespread immunity can produce, I believe community is harmed meaningfully by the pandemic.   We may wish to help others, but we won’t know for a long time whether that person who may wish to help actually represents a mortal danger to me and my family?“

Bill Geary, CoFounder & Partner, Flare Capital: “There’s an important opportunity during this time to increase our use of technology to improve human interactions, and have no doubt that as we all get more comfortable with accelerating virtual environments, we will seamlessly blend together these multiple modalities and find our interactions to be strengthened and enhanced as a result.”

Stephen Smith, Founder of NOCD: “To truly beat the coronavirus in a globalized society, every person in every city and country will need to unify. People who previously would not interact due to ideological differences are now realizing that they can work together. Post-COVID-19, collaboration has an opportunity to be at an all-time high. I believe this impact will accelerate progress far beyond levels we’ve seen before.”

On Healthcare

The U.S. healthcare system is experiencing an unprecedented shift towards virtual care delivery. While many shortfalls in system-wide preparedness have been highlighted, COVID-19 has also simultaneously accelerated the transition of patients to become Informed Connected Healthcare Consumers. At 7wireVentures, we believe that technology, shared information, and aligned incentives empower Informed Connected Health Consumers with the knowledge and resources to become stewards of their own health.  Through this shift spurred by COVID-19, digital health has had an awakening as to the importance of many virtual tools, including remote monitoring, to keep people out of harm’s way by meeting consumers where they live.

There is still great opportunity for improvement, but if recent regulatory policy and reimbursement shifts are any indication, our healthcare system is moving in the direction of encouraging further utilization of telemedicine, remote monitoring, and other digital health tools. Our healthcare leaders agree that there will be permanent changes in care delivery and patient-provider relationships.

Hemant Taneja, Managing Director, General Catalyst: “Overall, we have seen the lack of resilience in our health care system. We need a public health infrastructure that can test, trace and isolate consumers who have succumbed to infectious diseases a lot more effectively. We also need a system that can continue to operate in the midst of a pandemic with safety for the healthcare workforce as well as for the consumers.”

Matt Hermann, Senior Managing Director Ascension Ventures: “There are several patient-provider interactions that will shift in the post-COVID-19 world. Interactions will be more asynchronous. There will be more collaboration. We will need to pay MD’s differently, so they do not care about the venue of service. It is unclear what interactions will become more humanized versus shifted virtually as it depends on how long the crisis lasts. The longer the crisis exists, the more interactions will need to move online. People are craving human interaction not video interaction.”

Zane Burke, Chief Executive Officer Livongo Health: “Our health is innately personal, and the empathy and expertise of our healthcare providers are critical in our overall experience. What will change is the 99.9% of our lives we spend outside of the doctor’s office. Through remote monitoring and virtual care, we can provide the resources that people need to better understand and self-manage their health. This allows people to optimize the limited time they have with their doctor, improving the interaction.”

Anna Haghgooie, Managing Director Sandbox Industries: “Telemedicine has reached its tipping point. With “your” provider finally offering these services and people seeking out and using services provided by insurers, consumers are experiencing the convenience and access provided by telemedicine. If reimbursement stays, this method for Doctor/Patient connections is here to stay.”

As regions of the U.S. and the world expand testing and open parts of their respective economies, there will be new learnings directly related to the pandemic, but also in respect to the post COVID-19 world. As we gather new information, we will need to continuously refine our approach to building businesses, engaging with other humans, and redefining societal norms. To continue to deliver guidance, we will provide readers with insights from our healthcare leaders across the coming weeks. Our goal will be to facilitate collective learning from our peers and ideally, inspire creativity and action. Along with you, we too gain inspiration from the insights of these thought leaders and are hopeful about the future.