Startups

Why the consumer-driven world of healthcare still has its limits

Stop thinking consumers will pay for your app and start thinking about how it goes viral.

If you’re currently trying consumer-driven healthcare, chances are you’re doing it wrong.

That’s the point of view of Timmeko Moore Love, a business development manager at Mayo Clinic Ventures, who also spent six years as a principal at Best Buy Capital.

Love was part of the MedCity CONVERGE panel on corporate venture capital on Tuesday in Philadelphia. After that discussion, she outlined her lessons from the consumer-driven world of retail and how that applies to healthcare.

Bottom line: Digital health entrepreneurs incorrectly assume consumer-driven healthcare means they can leap-frog a traditional healthcare business model and get consumers to pay for their products.

That won’t work, Love said. Instead, healthcare startups need to figure out how to replicate the viral nature of consumer products.

“It’s that stickiness factor,” Love said.  “That is part of consumer tech. You create a sticky consumer experience, you’ve delighted the customer, they tell friends and that leverages network effects and the product goes viral.”

Love called the need to create viral health products — and ones people use day-in-and-day-out to stay healthy — “an opportunity gap.”

“There need to be solutions for well-being for people who are well,” Love said. “How can we design compelling solutions that help people maintain their health and stay informed? Those are things that are missing.”

Love was a founding member of Best Buy Capital, which was shuttered starting in 2013. The fund invested in the likes of the biometric sensor company Valencell, the sleep monitor Zeo and the home automation company Control4, among others.

Love said healthcare is still in the early-stage of its consumer driven movement. Human-centered design is still only starting to take hold.

“With many providers it’s still a painful migration,” she said.

The same goes for a direct-to-consumer payment model. Many of the companies she’s seen in her year at Mayo Clinic Ventures are “not really giving a lot of thought to the business models on healthcare side.”

“They think consumers will pay,” she said. “It’s just not the truth.”

Will that model ever evolve? Maybe, Love said.

“But we’re just not there yet.”