Welcome to the first episode of Digital Health Interviews in 2024! In this show, we bring you new content on digital health, so we invite you to subscribe to our channel and share it with others who are interested in this field. Today, we have a special guest who is returning to our show for the second time: Gil Bashe. Gil is a global health leader and a compassionate friend of Ukraine, and he had previously shown concern for our host Alex Koshykov, and his family during the full-in invasion of russia.
Gil Bashe’s Background & Career
Gil Bashe is the Chair of Global Health and Purpose at Finn Partners, one of the world’s largest independent communications agencies. He works with 1400 people across 33 offices, following the vision of Peter Finn, who founded an agency that serves the best interests of both clients and customers. Gil has dedicated his professional career to the health and well-being of people around the world, and he also leads the purpose and social impact practice, which deals with critical issues such as climate, diversity, environment, and sustainability. Gil is also the editor-in-chief of Medika Life, a digital health news platform with 300,000 readers and hundreds of authors from various health disciplines. It covers a wide range of topics and updates the content daily. Moreover, Gil serves on the boards of some startup companies and some important public health nonprofits.
Digital Health Changes
Gil Bashe reflected on how much the digital health landscape had changed since we last talked on camera in November 2021. He noted that digital health had matured and become more sophisticated, as evidenced by the decline of about 32% in investment in some cases. He said that this was not a sign of failure but of due diligence and practicality. He emphasized the role of AI, or aggregated intelligence as he called it, in improving the health system and the well-being of people through data analysis and pattern recognition. He also highlighted the benefits of digital health for society and investors, as long as they did their homework. He concluded by saying: “Digital health was a very practical life-saving money-making platform for investors to consider. The exuberance period had ended, now it was back to business.”
Rough Year for Industry
Gil Bashe shared his insights on the rough year for the digital health industry in 2023 when many companies faced layoffs, low investments, and bankruptcies. He gave examples of the challenges in the sector, such as Pear Therapeutics, Babylon Health, and RiteAid.
He explained that Babylon Health could not keep up with the individual health provider systems that offered telehealth and chatbot services more directly and efficiently. He pointed out that Pear Therapeutics did not have enough clinical evidence to back up its digital therapeutics products, which competed with traditional medications and other players that followed more rigorous trials and approvals. He observed that RiteAid had trouble adapting to the AI-driven market, where new companies used Chat GPT and Generative AI to create practical and pragmatic solutions.
He ended by saying: “Digital health was not just about the buzz and the hype, it was about the delivery and the value. The companies that could prove their impact and meet the needs of the customers and the payers would be the ones that succeeded in the long run.”
Looking Back to Predictions for 2022
When Alex Koshykov revisited the predictions made for 2022 during their previous conversation, Gil Bashe didn’t shy away from reflecting on them. “The concepts of health information, inclusive of AI, and post-acute care aren’t disparate entities,” Gil pointed out. He elaborated on the historical roots of modern medicine, emphasizing the pivotal role of observation and cognitive prowess in past physicians. “They were the embodiment of AI and Gen AI,” Gil remarked, highlighting the evolution of medicine from individual brilliance to communal excellence.
Regarding technological advancements like VR, Gil underscored their role as extensions of physicians’ skills rather than disruptive forces. “It’s just an extension of my skill set,” Gil noted, citing pioneering surgeons like Rafael J. Grossmann and Shafi Ahmed. These technologies enable practitioners to explore realms previously inaccessible to them.
Gil’s predictions weren’t mere conjecture but rooted in a historical understanding of the universe’s momentum. He highlighted the untapped potential of hospital data and the imperative to organize information amidst the current chaos. “We actually do need machine tools to sort patterns from that chaotic mass,” Gil observed, emphasizing the importance of historical perspective in making accurate prognoses.
Gil’s Predictions in Digital Health for 2024
As Alex Koshykov sought predictions for 2024 in healthcare, Gil Bashe didn’t hesitate to share his insights. “I believe we’re on the brink of witnessing disruptive technologies leveraging real-world evidence, ushering in an era where patients reclaim their critical role at the table,” Gil asserted. He emphasized the need to shift the focus from the system to the individual, citing the emergence of companies like StuffThatWorks, which pioneered patient-centered approaches akin to Waze’s navigation revolution.
Gil envisioned a harmonious relationship between Gen AI and healthcare professionals, foreseeing a cultural shift where technology becomes a valued counterpart rather than a competitor. Reflecting on personal experiences, such as his father-in-law’s hospitalization, Gil highlighted the pressing need for efficient information systems to support frontline healthcare workers.
Expounding further, Gil predicted a technological transformation in post-institutional care, envisioning a future where mechanized solutions facilitate healing and aging at home. He underscored the empowering potential of wearables and technology-enabled monitoring systems in enhancing healthcare accessibility and autonomy.
As the conversation turned to future meetings, Gil expressed enthusiasm, whether in the United States or Ukraine, emphasizing the significance of revisiting their predictions in the years to come. “I’d love to reconvene, perhaps in a Ukrainian coffee shop, and see how our predictions fare,” Gil remarked, anticipating the future with a mix of excitement and apprehension.
Investment Game with Gil Bashe
It’s fascinating to play this investment game! Here’s how Gil Bashe navigated through the startup pitches:
AR Application to Educate Students of Medical Colleges: Gil chose this over the mental health app due to the perceived saturation in the mental health sector.
A New Digital Stethoscope with AI Tool to Analyze Breathing Sound: He stuck with his initial choice, recognizing the potential for significant cultural change in the medical field.
AR Application to Educate Students of Medical Colleges: Gil maintained his investment decision, prioritizing educational innovation in medical training.
AI Agent Developed to Schedule an Appointment with a Doctor: He enthusiastically opted for this practical solution, foreseeing its value for consumers and healthcare providers alike.
Decentralized Clinical Trials Platform to Digitize the Whole Process of a Trial for the Patient: Gil expressed keen interest in this concept, acknowledging its potential to revolutionize drug development and increase trial accessibility.
Telehealth Solution with Multiple Integrations with Remote Patient Monitoring Tools: Gil decided against investing in this area, citing existing market saturation and dominant players like TeleDoc.
AI Solution to Help a Patient Select a Medical Insurance Provider: He ultimately favored the decentralized clinical trials platform, emphasizing its potential to enhance efficiency and reduce costs in the healthcare system.
Through each decision, Gil demonstrated a strategic approach, weighing market potential, innovation, and practicality.
Recommendations to Startup Founders
Gil Bashe offers three crucial tips for startup entrepreneurs:
Understand the Market and Reimbursement Model: Before diving into fundraising, it’s essential to grasp the market landscape and reimbursement model. Many entrepreneurs overlook this, focusing solely on their big idea without considering who will actually pay for it.
Establish a Strong Brand Identity: Beyond mere communication strategies, cultivate a solid brand identity rooted in your target market. Consider joining incubators or accelerators aligned with your industry, leveraging their resources for pilot programs and advisory board recruitment.
Craft a Comprehensive Presentation Deck: Develop a presentation deck that addresses key investor concerns. Outline the return on investment, business model validation, advisory board composition, operational plan, and specific funding needs. Moreover, articulate potential exit models to attract investor interest, drawing inspiration from successful examples like Google’s acquisition of Waze.
Our previous episode was with Daniel Lieberman: The Intersection of Psychiatry and Technology: Insights and Innovations
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