Arguing that the venture capital investment in telehealth is an “ad hoc” launch of a new $75 million telehealth-only fund
The pandemic has fueled the growing adoption of telehealth for primary care and specialty medicine. But despite a flurry of federal laws and new state regulations dramatically expanding virtual care coverage, there has been a dearth of capital dedicated to investing in telehealth.
At least that’s what New York Swiftarc Ventures found in its exhaustive 12-month search of space, said Sid Jawahar, its founder and managing partner in an interview. This led the early-stage and growth-stage venture capital firm to launch the “world’s first telehealth-focused venture capital fund” at $75 million earlier this week.
“Ad hoc” was the word Jawahar heard time and time again to describe the telehealth investment effort of successful entrepreneurs and telehealth juggernauts like Teladoc. “We’ve heard over and over that there’s venture capital interest and activity, but there really isn’t a dedicated effort, and that’s part of why they felt there wasn’t. there had been no uptick in activity, innovation or disruption in the space,” he said.
Jawahar’s view seems to run counter to market trends favoring investment in telehealth. Corn he maintains that much of the funding has been provided by general healthcare venture capital firms, with other disparate and tangential sources, such as universities building on their existing technology or government funding focused on advancing healthcare. basic primary care, also contributing.
By making this targeted investment, Swiftarc’s telehealth venture capital fund aims to improve access to care and reduce costs, including for low-income patients who have limited options. As it seeks to reach underserved populations, the fund will initially focus on three areas: obesity care, including the prevention of related conditions such as diabetes and hypertension; mental and behavioral health; and pediatrics.
More than a third of adults in the United States are considered obese and very few receive clinical treatment. Jawahar points out that while lifestyle is part of the solution, clinical interventions may also be needed. Swiftarc supports a platform-based approach where dietitians, primary care physicians and other clinicians can communicate with and with patients and have access to the same medical records.
The Swiftarc Telehealth Fund’s first investment is made in a precision medicine start-up Intelligent to expand its work in obesity management. Early adopters of the technology include NewYork-Presbyterian and Massachusetts General Hospital. And Jawahar sees the platform as well positioned for adoption by hospital systems across the country.
To help portfolio companies with more than just capital, the venture capital fund relies on its partnership with Nottingham Spirek, based in Cleveland, to form a telehealth commercialization partnership with the goal of bringing innovative services to market quickly.
An investor and founder of the $75 million fund expressed his belief in the future of telemedicine and Swiftarc’s ability to capitalize on that growth.
“The recent increased use of telemedicine during the pandemic has provided health care to those in need in a safe and convenient way,” said Dr. Paul Bedocs, dermatologist and founding investor of the telehealth fund and member Swiftarc Medical Council Inaugural, in the press release. “This increase in use has proven to everyone involved in the consumption and delivery of health care that this method is a valuable tool that improves patient care and satisfaction.”
Photo: sdecoret, Getty Images