Making the US health care system sustainable in the future is only possible if there is recognition that many chronic diseases are preventable, but this is a complex challenge. The strong association between chronic disease outcomes and mental health disorders highlights the disconnect between working to improve chronic disease outcomes without addressing mental health. Innovation also requires addressing health care disparities in areas of inequity in the quality, access, and affordability of preventive care. The connective tissue to all of this is a holistic view of body, mind and spirit as a pathway to good health, well-being and longevity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that costs related to the care of people with chronic illnesses and mental conditions make up 90% of the $3.8 trillion spent on the nation’s health care. Because of this, investors are increasingly looking for wellness companies that promote harmony or life balance to promote health and well-being. Applying this approach connects the masses to healthcare professionals and services in a cost-effective, low-friction way through improved consumer experiences driven by things like home health, telehealth and digital health solutions that reduce costs and ease time constraints for consumers by solving systematic inefficiencies of healthcare.
In particular, investors will increasingly look for companies that disrupt old models and promote a baseline of well-being through innovation that mitigates and/or prevents the increased medical and social costs of ill health through affordable solutions that provide flexible, easy access and personalized services that contribute to improved outcomes.
Advances in science, medicine, and technology have created a tremendous ability to treat and cure chronic diseases, but the wisdom of “prevention is better than cure” is often lost in the process. With its focus on treatments and cures, the confusing, profit-driven, universal health care model in the United States in particular fails to deliver the benefits of basic health that result from early attention to disease prevention. What’s more, over the past two years, the sudden shift to working from home, social distancing and isolation has led to a decline in health and well-being through a troubling combination of perceived positives in the form of flexibility and increased free time, and worrying negatives in the form of burnout, depression and reduced physical activity. This new norm makes good health even more difficult to maintain, and companies that address this situation are potentially increasingly valuable.
Creative health innovations are key to ensuring health for all
The World Health Organization Council on the Economics of Health for All published their manifesto last September ahead of the October 2021 G20 summit in Rome. The creation of the Council and the goals set out for the G20 summit signal a fundamental shift in policy design and the associated reorientation of sectors and funding to prioritize public health. This paradigm shift in health security places people’s health and the common good as a priority for economic policy development. Creative healthcare innovation will be an important part of the ecosystem.
We actively seek investment proposals that include choices located at the intersection of healthy living, healthy living and effective health care delivery. These are companies that improve financial, societal and corporate health. Companies that exemplify the potential of these wellness investment philosophies include Hi Better, Iris Telehealthand Talkiatry, who are a group of companies pioneering the technological, personalized mental health space. Another group of companies in this area are Cara Care, Food Marble, and Ombre, who lead the at-home gut biome testing space. Finally you have JUNE, Limeadeand workspace, that are charging ahead in areas of corporate personalized wellness (Talkiatry and Ombre are portfolio companies of Relevance Ventures).
Tolchiatry clears two main pain points for patients –waiting time and availability— with online providers that accept major insurance plans. Ombre Self-Testing provides affordable, easy-to-use kits that remove the major barriers to obtaining useful health information: access to gut biome testing, cost of testing, and lack of information and actionable suggestions. And JOON helps companies create healthy and productive working conditions – from health to lifestyle – for their employees.
Balance — an ancient concept of balancing modern life
Disease prevention and home health management have the potential to dramatically reduce costs for insurers, Medicare, and consumers. Scientific evidence suggests that a healthy diet, physical activity and cessation of tobacco use can prevent and control chronic diseases. Recognition of the symbiotic relationship between chronic illness and mental well-being highlights the need for commonsense solutions that embrace a holistic, more balanced approach that has proven successful in nature for hundreds of thousands of years; solutions that can achieve better overall patient outcomes and reduced total cost of care for consumers, companies and the entire healthcare system.
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