What I’m Learning

As a lifelong learner I try to keep my eyes, ears and mind open. 

New Business Terms — Unicorns and Dragons.  No, I am not referring to a game.  This is serious business talk.  It’s likely you have heard the term unicorn before.  A unicorn is a privately held company that reaches $1B in valuation.  This is an important milestone for a startup that helps build confidence in the investment community that the company will continue to grow and that the investors will get a return on their investments.  Examples of unicorn companies in the healthcare space include CityBlock Health, Innovaccer, Evidation Health, Bright Health, Grand Rounds and Village MD.

A dragon is a company that can return the entire investment fund, not just return the amount that was invested in that single company.  For example, an investment fund may make $100M in investments, but they parse that money out among many different companies.  A dragon is a company that has made a return of $100M equal to the amount of the entire fund.  In other words. The dragon company has delivered significant value back to its investors.  Some people also include the caveat that the dragon company must be valued at $12B as part of the definition.  SpaceX, Instacart and Stripe are all considered to be dragon companies.  So now if you hear about unicorns and dragons, you know that you’d rather be the Dragon.

Healthcare trends – The two major healthcare trends I see and why they matter:

A Race to the Home – Health plans are acquiring home health companies and home health companies are merging with each other at a rapid pace to be prepared to take care of more health conditions in the home.  Providing care in the home is much less costly than providing care at a hospital or skilled nursing facility, allows the primary care physician more control over the patient’s care and can result in better health outcomes.  Why this matters:  The elderly want to remain in their homes as they age and need services.  At the same time, the elderly don’t want to burden to their loved ones with frequent requests to take them for health care visits.  Generally, the more care that can be provided in the comfort and safety (see consumer trends below) of the patient’s home, the better for healthcare costs and the patient.

Expansion of telehealth companies –Telehealth companies are expanding their service offerings.  For example, a general telehealth company might acquire a virtual behavioral health company or a chronic condition management company.  Why this matters:  The telehealth market is crowded and it’s hard to differentiate services.  In addition, health plans, providers and employers alike are tired of “point solutions” which are offerings that only solve one problem.  The best way to become and stay entrenched with your customer is to increase the number of services you offer and then to drive high engagement.

General consumer trends ––  According to Euromonitor International, a global market research company, these are the top emerging trends for 2021:

  • Build Back Better: A second chance to create a better future
  • Craving Convenience: From always-available to pre-planned experiences
  • Outdoor Oasis: Open air gives trapped consumers an escape
  • Phygital Reality: Physical & digital worlds collide
  • Playing with Time: Newfound flexibility switches up schedules
  • Restless and Rebellious: People vs. politicians
  • Safety Obsessed: Priorities shift to safety & hygiene
  • Shaken and Stirred: Rising above adversity
  • Thoughtful Thrifters: Thinking with a recessionary mindset
  • Workplaces in New Spaces: Recreating the office environment remotely

We know that many of these trends are tied to people’s experiences during the pandemic:  sheltering in place, shortages due to supply chain disruptions, new home and outdoor based hobbies and more thrift as people were eating out less often and saving on commuting expenses.  If you are a business professional, you’ll want to keep your eye on these trends because they can impact your business.  Whether or not the public at large will shift back to pre-pandemic habits and how quickly remains to be seen, but you can be sure that to some degree, we’ll see these behaviors emerging and/or being retained by consumers.