The Future of Health
The founders of Feelmore Labs, Seed Health, and Capsule discuss innovating during COVID-19.
By Lindsey Marlowe
Last Updated: December 7, 2020
Published: August 13, 2020
The world in which we’re currently living has never before seen consumer behavior change so quickly. We expect to continue to see these seismic changes over the next decade. At M13, we invest in companies that are building defensible businesses around emerging consumer behaviors in the essential areas of consumer’s daily lives: food, healthcare, entertainment, and financial services.
For our 2020 Summer Series “ Future Perfect” conversations, we’ve brought together founding leaders who have shaped and are shaping current and future generations of great businesses. Together, we seek to further understand how today’s health and economic crises resulting are accelerating behaviors and white spaces for new necessities, innovations, and investments.
Health is one of the many industries that has experienced rapid progression over the past decade. Emerging technology and the move to digital mediums transform how patients access healthcare, and in the age of COVID-19, these trends have further accelerated as they become “need-to-haves” and no longer “nice-to-haves.” This conversation on The Future of Health is moderated by M13 General Partner Latif Peracha featuring innovation pioneers in the healthcare industry:
Francois Kress, Co-founder and CEO of M13 portfolio company Feelmore Labs, an innovative health and wellness neuroscience company pioneering a new category of wearable devices with scientifically proven results to effortlessly improve your wellbeing.
Ara Katz, Co-founder and Co-CEO of M13 portfolio company Seed Health, a microbial sciences company pioneering applications of bacteria to improve human and environmental health.
Eric Kinariwala, Founder and CEO of M13 portfolio company Capsule, a pharmacy focused on same-day prescription delivery to the safety of your home.
Health and technology are no longer mutually exclusive. What are some of the exciting new modalities developing during this time?
- The lines are blurring between wellness and healthcare. Wearable devices and trackers are bringing heightened awareness and education to the consumer, providing a more holistic view of one’s state of being.
- New mental health technologies have emerged to provide a broader range of solutions to anxiety, stress, and restlessness. These solutions are aimed to prevent the patient from turning to harmful drugs when they could potentially take care of their symptoms otherwise.
- For many, meditation is a difficult task. We expect to see an increase in technology and wearables that provide effortless meditation, like Cove by Feelmore Labs.
What are some of the new modalities developing in science?
- Although a microbe is currently wreaking havoc on our world, there are lots of beneficial microbes that can be harnessed for the potential to impact human and environmental health. We anticipate the synthetic engineering of microbes.
- In an increasingly antibiotic-resistant environment, we must seek out alternatives. Biotherapeutics, meaning the administration of a consortium of microbes, can be a really impactful frontline treatment.
- Seed Health is looking at the future of probiotics through ecosystems of the body and skin and how microbes are ingesting probiotic supplements. This means looking beyond digestive gastrointestinal health to the future applications of microbes.
How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
- Telehealth and digital pharmacies have seen a huge surge in demand; for Capsule, in March 2020 business grew 50% week over week.
- Because COVID-19 is a public health crisis, governments have had to become more involved. We’ve seen a radical waiving of regulations around licensure requirements so that healthcare workers can relocate to support the most vulnerable areas.
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) very quickly allowed doctors to bill for telehealth visits (both audio and video), and pharmacists were given the ability to prescribe COVID tests.
- COVID-related clinical research has accelerated, and contract research organizations have been inundated with requests. For companies that rely on scientific research, most clinical work unrelated to COVID has been temporarily suspended.
- Seed Health has initiated COVID related projects such as studying the nasal microbiome and its correlation to disease severity. Seed Health has also doubled down on education, using social media and other marketing channels to increase public awareness of COVID-19.
How do we build businesses that are not just for the 1%, but the 99%? How can we bring advanced healthcare solutions to a broader audience?
- As development advances, the goal will be to simplify our tech so we’re able to reach different segments of the population.
- Ensuring that products and offerings are covered by insurance and FSA is key. Also, make them accessible through different doorways. For example, Capsule is available via mobile app, desktop, SMS, and phone call.
- Focus on areas that need your offerings most. Capsule prioritized operating in pharmacy deserts (like the south side of Chicago) and was able to make prescriptions available to patients in Minneapolis during recent social unrest.