Theo Lee is a Senior Associate at 25m Health. The following post details Theo’s experience working on Kouper Health, a 25m Health incubation.
“How do you create meaningful value in healthcare?” This is the question I continue to ask myself as I spend time exploring the healthcare market, its stakeholders, and its complex incentives. My experiences across building and investing have informed my two personal theses on healthcare innovation:
- Healthcare innovation happens at the fringes, with the people that are overlooked and need it most (constraints breed creativity). That is, the hundreds of millions of people in developing countries or the one in five Americans that reside in rural communities that don’t have access to basic healthcare.
- Intimately understanding the provider-patient relationship is essential to healthcare innovation. Growing closer to the patient is why I left my previous role in the payor world and am starting medical school this Fall with long-term aspirations of becoming a physician-innovator.
These two theses motivated my decision to join 25m Health because of its unique relationship with Lifepoint Health and Scion Health, two rural hospital systems spanning 26+ states with 80+ acute hospitals and hundreds of post-acute care facilities (including the Kindred Healthcare acquisition). 25m Health is a HealthTech venture studio that launched in Fall of 2021 between 25madison, Lifepoint Health, Scion Health, and Apollo Global Management.
25m Health incubates new companies in close partnership with an entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR). We help our EIRs succeed by providing hands on support with Engineering, Product, Design, Fundraising, Finance, and more. Since Fall 2021, I have worked closely with Salman Ali, a 25m Health EIR, to explore opportunities within our ‘Care Anywhere’ theme.
We spent two months iterating across several problem spaces with Lifepoint and Scion leadership (C-Suite, SVPs, Business Line Heads), condensing months of discovery, research, and ideation. Once we identified a critical set of problems in the post-acute space, system leadership identified five diverse Lifepoint hospitals that acutely face these problems. We spent 5 weeks on the road visiting the following Lifepoint hospitals to scope our first pilot site and continue our ideation process (see below for photos from our time on the road):
- Haywood Regional Medical Center (Haywood, NC)
- Lake Cumberland Medical Center (Somerset, KY)
- Starr Regional Medical Center (Athens, TN)
- Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center (Conemaugh, PA)
- Paris Regional Medical Center (Paris, TX)
At each hospital we were welcomed by a myriad of teams: from local hospital leadership (CEO, CMO, COO, CFO) to clinical teams (ED docs, hospitalists, nurses, pharmacists) to staff across Case Management, Social Work, IT, and Billing to local post-acute care providers (EMS, SNFs, LTACs, IRFs, HHAs). We spent hours with each of these teams to learn their challenges, pressure-test our hypotheses, and scope our initial product versions. It was invigorating to see the hospital leadership’s support and excitement to design and create innovative solutions together. This curated experience enabled us to quickly build and scale Kouper Health to what it is today, radically improving the transitions of care journey for patients, providers and payers.
Each one of these facilities was diverse in geographic location, size, patient demographics, and payer mix to give us a varied set of perspectives. Health in rural America is differentiated in its set of challenges: low broadband connectivity, low access to transportation, large Medicaid and uninsured populations, healthcare workforce shortages, older and co-morbid patients, among many others. Importantly, rural hospitals are typically the largest employer and are deeply connected with community members and establishments across generations. They also serve as a catch-all facility for a diverse set of patients across state lines and the surrounding hundreds of miles. These challenges are what make the rural healthcare system ripe for innovation.
Through these lived experiences, I firmly believe that the overlooked challenges (and opportunities) in rural communities in addition to the deep trust embedded in the physician-patient relationship enables 25m Health to create meaningful value in healthcare.
Special thanks to Salman Ali, Ablimit Keskin, Merrill Anovick, Jessie Beegle, Aaron Lewis, Dr. Christopher Frost and all the Lifepoint Hospital teams for their support throughout this journey.
Pictures from our trip: