Digital Health and IT are Exciting Opportunities

Date:   Tuesday , February 26, 2013

Headquartered in Chicago, Skyline Global Partners LLC is a lower middle market private equity firm which invests an average of $20 million in buyouts and growth equity investments in the U.S. and Canada. The main verticals of interest are healthcare, manufacturing and business services sectors.

Spending a lot of time looking at healthcare and medical related technologies made investment in products and services that can lower the cost of healthcare a top priority.

This has to be a fundamental thesis for anyone in this space. To that extent, having invested in everything from biotechnology to medical clinics, there is a particular excitement about the opportunities that exist in digital health and IT.

Fundamentally the incremental cost savings to society from a new promising drug or device does not compare to the savings that can be achieved from streamlined processes enabled by IT across the continuum of healthcare. So there is a liking for enterprise focused healthcare technologies that improve efficiencies for all constituents in the process.

Technologies for the Future

The interest lies in developments occurring in everything from telemedicine, kiosk-based healthcare used for tasks such as health screenings or pharmacy dispensing to software designed to allow insurance companies and providers to communicate, authenticate and transact more swiftly.

It is intriguing about the working of technologies that truly help with connectivity and the sharing of information. For example, a new legislation in the U.S. will now make it mandatory for lab companies to give patients access to their own lab results (vs. just sending it to the doctor). This should give the patient an ability to push his/her information to whomever they want, including second opinions, alternative medicine doctors and even websites such as disease specific patient portals. Patients will finally be empowered with more information.

Opportunity for Technology Enabled Products

There are lots of opportunities for technology enabled products that provide continuous diagnoses in a passive and non-intrusive manner. This includes everything from disposable patches to smart sensors placed in homes and hospitals. Medical events become "events" well after initial warning signals are available. More technology needs to be developed to better monitor patients without them even knowing they are being monitored thus improving compliance and catching events earlier. We are just scratching the surface of home based telemedicine.

Additionally, more healthcare IT companies need to think globally in terms of the market for innovations. The U.S. market may be great now, but we are late in the cycle here for certain areas of health IT, while demand is just starting to pick-up abroad. From an exit perspective, many of the big guys will need to buy their way into an international presence. So why not be there already for them to buy?

An Entrepreneur's Challenge

The biggest challenge entrepreneurs face is developing a new service or product that an enterprise customer will actually pay for. Too many companies are developing "neat ideas" that may be better than incumbent solutions but do not warrant a customer to want to actually pay for it, especially if what they have is "good enough". Technologies need to have a compelling value proposition and today in healthcare; cost savings coupled with better and faster is a becoming mandatory requirement.