General Catalyst Extends Health Assurance Network Model to UK

Oct. 3, 2022
Venture capital firm, which has partnered with Intermountain Healthcare and Jefferson Health, is entering into a similar collaboration with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Venture capital firm General Catalyst, which has partnered with U.S. healthcare systems such as Intermountain Healthcare and Jefferson Health, is entering into a similar collaboration with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (GSTT) in the United Kingdom. Executives with General Catalyst and Guy’s and St Thomas recently spoke to Healthcare Innovation about the aims of the new partnership.

General Catalyst partners leverage the firm’s Health Assurance Network, which is a group of tech innovation companies within General Catalyst’s investment portfolio. These companies include Transcarent, Olive, Oscar, Livongo, Cityblock Health, Sprinter Health, Commure, and Circulo, among others.

Dr. Nadine Hachach Haram, consultant plastic surgeon and director of clinical innovation and strategic partnerships at GSTT, described the work of KHP Ventures, the commercial innovation partner of the Trust, which will collaborate with General Catalyst to invest in med-tech companies.

An independent joint venture launched in 2021 by Guy’s and St Thomas,’ King’s College London and King’s College Hospital, KHP Ventures is working to identify health tech start-ups that can improve health and healthcare in the NHS, making investments aligned with NHS clinical priorities. Hachach Haram noted that GSTT is a large organization with a history of innovation, and it sits adjacent to King's College London, which has significant healthcare research facilities. “You really see that kind of infusion of academia and healthcare and innovation all coming together on the shop floor, so to speak, to translate and innovate care at the front line, at the access point,” she added.

The first joint investment by General Catalyst and KHP Ventures is in London-based Doccla, a provider virtual ward and patient monitoring technology to the NHS.

Doccla will use the £15 million Series A funding round for the development of a tech stack that facilitates the integration of its patient monitoring solutions with more medical devices and electronic healthcare record systems, data analytics and AI, as well as expand clinical capacity and availability in order to meet the increasing demand for virtual hospitals that alleviate pressures on healthcare systems.

Before going into detail about the new partnership, Chris Bischoff, managing director at General Catalyst, spoke about the firm’s overall approach and its U.S. collaborations.

“We have a thesis that in healthcare radical collaboration is required amongst healthcare industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors to achieve change and transformation,” he said. “I think that's true of the U.S., but I think it's doubly true of Europe. By partnering, we embed a sense of collaboration and integration and coordination in the founding ethos of these companies. The idea is to connect the traditional healthcare system with innovators in order to accelerate transformation.”

General Catalyst has four announced U.S. partnerships — with Intermountain, Jefferson, HCA Healthcare and WellSpan, and Bischoff said there are further ones coming. “The leaders of these organizations have in common that they very much want to build for the future. They're really saying, ‘what is the business we want in 5, 10, or 20 years, and over a multi-year engagement with General Catalyst, how can we deliver that?’”

Hachach Haram said KHP Ventures has already made 14 investments. “We focus mostly on digital and med tech, and our role is to focus on spinning in and spinning out interesting and meaningful and scalable technologies that will benefit our patient population,” she explained. “If it's not going to benefit our healthcare workers, our patients, or our back office, then we don't really invest. There's got to be a synergy where we can not only put money with these companies, but we can actually give them access to a really robust testbed. That leads into some of the work with General Catalyst. It's exciting, because we can share a pipeline. We can see companies that they're looking at and we can show what we're looking at and really see how we can help these companies have the best chance of success, and, most importantly, of course, make an impact at the front line.”

I asked both Hachach Haram and Bischoff what they saw as differences and similarities in terms of the pace of healthcare innovation in the U.S. vs. the U.K.

“I would say our challenges are more or less the same. There are a few different nuances, but common challenges include workforce, effectiveness and efficiency, quality and outcomes — it’s the Quadruple Aim,” Hachach Haram said. “COVID, of course, has been a catalyst, but we've been seeing innovation slowly but surely find its way into health system processes and now we're seeing it ever more so because the reality is we're never going to make or create the number of healthcare workers that we need to address the gap,” she added. “The way I believe that we can change that is bringing that final piece of the puzzle, that technology to augment the workforce.” She said a bricks and mortar approach to healthcare is dated. “We have to think differently, and that's why companies that are working on virtual wards and remote monitoring — these are the things that are going to really help us address those gaps.”

Bischoff noted that in publicly funded systems in Europe, there tends to be less money available for innovation. The U.S. system has been great at innovation, but as a byproduct of that innovation, there's quite a lot of wastage, he added. “That's not going to work as well in Europe, right? Because we don't have the dollars and we may not have had the same entrepreneurship, but we certainly don't have the experience in healthcare entrepreneurship that has been around in the U.S., for a bunch of reasons. You have a lot of choice in your system that creates complexity, but that also creates opportunity, right? We have less complexity, but it's been harder to build that base of entrepreneurship. So these partnerships, I think, provide an opportunity to really take the best of breed from what we've learned in the U.S. We're very optimistic there'll be plenty more U.S. partnerships, and excited about whatever impact we can build there. We can share those insights and really bring the best to Europe, but also localize them, because things are different here. For instance, payment models are different.”

Bischoff said he also is excited about the General Catalyst’s partners engaging with each other. “There will be an opportunity for GSTT to talk to HCA and Intermountain. There is a network effect where everybody benefits from being part of the ecosystem,” he added. “We're here to try to help innovation flourish in Europe. It's not going to flourish in the same way as in the U.S., so we have to take the advantages of Europe, and see if we can build businesses in a slightly different way that can succeed locally.”

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