Coverage & Commentary

Where should digital health elevator pitches really start?

The following is a guest post from Jack Stockert, managing director at Health2047.

The latest comic book blockbuster Dr. Strange opened in theaters recently, and I happened upon a related article commenting on Marvel’s marvelous power in telling origin stories. The movie centers on a doctor turned superhero, and it got me thinking about origin stories in the sphere of healthcare innovation.

Origin stories are a mighty tool for capturing attention and conveying purpose, and they’ve played a central role in everything from the ancient myths that explained the mysteries of our world to the “rags to riches” narrative that makes the American Dream so compelling.

For an entrepreneurial venture, the origin story ties your passion to your work, communicates a particular insight on a market, and generates a window into a unique or proprietary viewpoint. For an investor, the origin story provides the evidence supporting an entrepreneur’s understanding of a given pain point in a target market and the logic behind an innovation’s development. The origin story encapsulates a meaningful “why” and connects to the vision of where a company or product is going. The stories are all unique in their own way, but similar in that they must be grounded in struggle — the underlying problem, the unwanted turn of events, the pain point that must be solved, for example — and signal a chance at redemption — solving the problem and delivering value through the company.

Yet as I look across the digital health landscape, it dawns on me that we’ve lost half the plot when it comes to current entrepreneurial origin stories. Yes, the personal/patient origin stories are evident. With over $4.5 billion of private funding in digital health ventures reported last year, each initiative is born of a person stricken with disease, a grandson of an Alzheimer’s patient, or a cancer survivor fighting on. There is a plethora of origin stories that champion these individuals, their companies and the products designed to solve their very real pain points.

The problem is that these solutions address only one perspective on the problem. In healthcare, there is an essential set of stakeholders who remain relatively muted in the innovation space and its stories: the practicing doctor. How…strange…