VC's View: Cash-Based Care Has a Serious Social Stratification Problem - MedCity News

Pictured: Ulili Onovakpuri and Vijay Patel, two Engage participants at HLTH

Healthcare investors are faced with a myriad of healthcare startups seeking capital. And it’s an interesting time in the care startup space—more and more questions are being asked about how much care should be applied to how these companies grow, what should be included in their gross profits, and how they should be evaluated.

When it comes to her feelings about investing in care startups, it’s a truly “mixed bag” for Ulili Onovakpouri, managing partner at Kapor Capital. She said so on Sunday at Get involved in HLTHpatient engagement summit organized by MedCity News in Las Vegas.

Health care is a stratified experience in the U.S. Onovakpuri pointed out that this stratification is getting worse with the emergence of provider startups that operate on a cash payment model, such as sesame and Tia.

These types of pay-as-you-go providers typically offer more streamlined healthcare compared to the endless red tape and billing confusion that patients face in the traditional healthcare system. This can be very attractive to patients—they don’t want to deal with months of waiting to see a provider, nor do they want to deal with the Kafkaesque ordeal of trying to understand and pay their health care bills.

According to Onovakpuri, these cash payment providers “are good for some” – those who can afford it. But those who don’t have the means to pay for care outside of the traditional health care delivery system can’t participate in these startups’ model of care, no matter how innovative or convenient it may be.

“If I’m being honest, it’s hard for me because I see a lot of great technology every day and when I talk to them I’m like, ‘Wait, that’s great – how much does that cost?’ and then I’m like, ‘Well, we can’t do because the people we care about the most can’t afford it.’ And that’s hard because they’re probably the people who need it the most,” Onovakpuri said.

She summed it up pretty succinctly: There’s an incredible amount of innovation happening, but the people who can benefit the most from this kind of care will be the last to receive it.

“Innovation is great, but it’s another dividing factor we’re facing,” Onovakpuri said.

Onovakpuri noted another key concern: the fact that many of the country’s most talented doctors are choosing to leave their hospitals and health systems to work for cash-based care startups. She said she can understand why they are making this choice (they are understandably fed up with the inefficiencies of standard systems), but it is still a problem because it exacerbates the hospital’s understaffing problem and makes patient wait times even longer. long for traditional suppliers.

Photo: HLTH

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