I spent the last week in San Francisco for the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference during which 25,000 individuals from across the healthcare sector descend upon the bay area. Startups, publicly-traded companies, investors, advisors, doctors, bankers and more all come west to attend presentations and meetings by day and cocktail parties and dinners by night. My calendar was packed with back-to-back 30 minute and hour long meetings – It is a little like speed dating for business. You meet with an interesting medical device company who is looking to raise capital followed by a meeting with an investor looking for an innovative medical device company that will put his money to work. My job is to introduce the two parties in hopes that I can generate a fee on any transactions that come to fruition. So while I participate in the speed dating, I am more of the matchmaker. After a long day of meetings, the ‘festivities’ begin. Many service providing companies such as law firms, private equity firms and banks including Mesirow, will host cocktail parties, occupying all the local bars and hotels, creating what is referred to as “the circuit.” This sort of evening speed dating entails quicker discussions, often sharing more ideas to spur business and investment.
Throughout the week, we met with some pretty interesting companies and a slew of investors. One company, Medsphere, has created an open-source electronic health record platform, employing the core code built by the VA that they were able to duplicate for free by taking advantage of the Freedom of Information Act. Ironically enough, they are now pursuing a Department of Defense grant, essentially taking technology from one branch of the government and selling it to another. Another company has developed a software and service platform to offer a telepharmacy service that would save hospitals a significant amount of time and money. All the while, hospitals such as North Shore LIJ are implementing venture arms that will provide capital for new technologies that will utilized by in their network as well as others. This corporate VC model is fascinating as the investors are also major customers, adding value in twofold. Innovation is slowly but surely finding its way into the healthcare industry and it will be exciting to see the significant changes that are ahead. Conferences such as this, while hectic and fast-paced, create opportunities to share ideas and promote growth for all constituents.