Nov 28, 2022 - Health

HLTH: Tight market puts companies' mission under the microscope

Illustration of a doctor's hands holding a large magnifying glass over a dollar bill.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Despite Dan Trigub's career history at Uber and Lyft, the MedArrive CEO wants you to know his company is not a transportation business but an enabler of in-home care.

Why it matters: In a tight funding market, it's critical for companies to prove their strengths and clearly communicate their limitations to investors and potential partners.

  • "People think we're in the transportation business. We're not," Trigub told Axios at HLTH in Las Vegas this month. The executive previously steered health efforts at Uber and Lyft.

Details: Trigub was not the the only founder at HLTH correcting people's notions about their business.

  • Executives and founders at seven health tech companies including Lyra Health, One Medical and Evernow are all working to emphasize that their companies are not as basic as mainstream narratives would have them seem.

What they're saying: Several leaders focused on the fact that they aren't simply addressing a single health issue, such as menopause or mild mental illness, but a myriad of symptoms — and sometimes, a myriad of markets.

  • "We treat a lot of very complicated issues," Lyra COO Connie Chen said, pointing to its recently added dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) service, which it rolled out during the pandemic "because suicidality was rising so much."
    • The company began offering treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) at the same time.
  • "This is not just about menopause — it's about women's health, full stop," said Evernow CEO Alicia Jackson.
    • Menopause is "not just hot flashes," Jackson added. "It's highly correlated with metabolic disease, a decline in cardiovascular health, and osteoporosis — and symptoms start around age 40."
  • "We actually serve everyone, from Google to Grandma," said One Medical CIO Rushika Fernandopulle, who before One Medical's acquisition of Medicare Advantage business Iora Health served as that company's CEO.

Meanwhile, others stressed that their services were not built for one-time use.

  • "People misunderstand that it's not one-and-done but a life journey," Calm CEO David Ko told Axios. "Our goal is to be there every step of the way."
  • "People think we're an urgent care service or for a one-time need," said Teladoc chief medical officer Vidya Raman-Tangella. "Show me another company with our acquisitions and offerings — we do longitudinal and holistic care."

And like MedArrive, some are struggling to stress their role as enablers rather than providers.

  • "We're not a direct primary care (DPC) company," Zak Holdsworth, the CEO of a software startup called Hint Health that this month bought health record company AeroDPC, told Axios. "We serve the DPC community."

The take home: Health tech leaders with big ambitions are focused on communicating what they can — and perhaps more importantly can't — do.

  • For Trigub, who wants his company to power virtually any health care program, that presents a simple problem.
  • "Education is a hurdle," Trigub said.
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