Advantages of moving to a virtual hybrid model

In a recent episode of the Virtual Care Paradigm, McKesson Ventures Partner Michelle Snyder discussed how a virtual-first approach to healthcare could become the new norm.

Snyder started off by discussing the growing interest in investing in primary care. “I remember about 15 years ago when one of my former colleagues started a primary care company, and … nobody wanted to invest in primary care,” Snyder said. “And now today, primary care and particularly virtual care is where there’s a lot of action in the digital health space.”

Two things Snyder sees as being particularly exciting are those interested in making primary care a more viable field of medicine through using tools, technologies, and platforms to help primary care doctors continue to not only survive, but thrive; and the growing use of telehealth.

“There are exciting companies like Privia, who actually just went public, and Aledade, who just raised money at about a $2 billion valuation, who are using technology to basically say, ‘We know you guys need our help to be able to survive in this new value-based world,’” Snyder said.

“You have very different models sprouting up,” Snyder said. “You have the virtual-only care methods, which have been very interesting, that are usually focused around specific disease categories or cohorts of people.” Even some asynchronous models are part of the telehealth boom.

“Then you have these other primary care models, where I’m particularly interested, that are looking more holistically at a population and actually thinking more about outcomes and value, and how can you take care of patients from a virtual-first approach?” Snyder said. “So it’s not saying ‘let’s just build onto the current system and add a telehealth component,’ It’s saying ‘let’s rethink primary care from the ground up, starting with virtual.’”

What differentiates the tech companies that are doing virtual-first primary care from the providers who are now incorporating virtual care?

Some people are thinking everything will go back to normal after the pandemic is over, but while Michelle Snyder does think there will be some shaking out among the companies currently offering telehealth, telehealth itself isn’t going to go away.

“I think most practices, facilities, institutions, are going to have to have a virtual component,” Snyder said. “What’s different with some of the newer hybrid models is that they’re rethinking care starting with virtual.”

As an investor, what is Snyder looking for from telehealth companies or even virtual hybrid companies?

Generally speaking, Snyder said, she’s looking for the usual things: a great team, a great product, and a large market opportunity. But there’s more to it than just that.

“To me, one of the key things is the technology: What kind of platforms do they have? How are they going to be able to leverage technology to make things not only more efficient, but more effective in terms of actually producing better outcomes?” Snyder said.

The patient experience component is also important to Snyder. “In particular, for me, as an investor, I’m kind of looking for that closed-loop system. If they have to go outside [the system developed by the company] or they need specialty care or actually need to be seen by a doctor, how is that information getting integrated back and creating a holistic experience for the patient?”

Another thing Michelle Snyder is excited about is that for a long time we have seen healthcare as being only about physical health, but now that definition is expanding to include mental health, financial health, and social health because those factors—those social determinants of health—do play an integral role in a person’s overall health.

Snyder hopes that this interest in social determinants of health, and health equity in general, isn’t a fad, and that the investor excitement and seeming interest of employers, health plans, and health systems in this area will continue.

Listen to the full episode here.