Zach Gonzales, Norwest Venture Partners
What drew you to healthcare investing?
My mother was an ER nurse. My stepmother is a therapist. My aunt is a pediatrician. I grew up in awe of the medical community, of hospitals and physicians, and of the amazing things they could do. But I was awfully squeamish of blood and injury, so medical school was out of the question for me.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing the healthcare industry right now?
Incentive misalignment! There are absurd numbers of entrenched polemical relationships in the healthcare space, creating seemingly endless “zero-sum” games. Incentive misalignment creates lethargy and induces organizations to resist innovation, not seek it. This makes adoption in the healthcare space painfully slow which creates inherent difficulties for healthcare startups and the investors behind them. We need to do a better job aligning those incentives, and that needs to come both from the private sector and the federal government.
What areas or technologies are you currently most excited by?
I’m very excited by the recent break out of risk-based provider groups and conveners. Teeing off of the previous question, I strongly believe that aligning the incentives of physicians, health plans, and patients is the right way to advance patient care, particularly for high-risk and complex patients. Following the success of organizations like NaviHealth, Agilon, CareMore, and Oak Street Health, I think there is a bright future for companies that can enable providers with systems, technologies, and contracting schemas to streamline and improve patient care while reducing systemic cost.
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