WNNY: The Moment of Digital Reckoning in Healthcare Has Finally Arrived

Unity Stoakes presents this month at What’s Now: New York. We’re in an extraordinary moment in the healthcare industry—similar to where the web was in the mid-1990s. Just like the Netscape IPO marked the beginning of a boom in 1995, Fitbit recently going public marked a new era in digital health. People in the know can see how the whole industry could be transformed over the next five years. The $1,000 sequencing of a person’s full genome will soon drop to $100. Watches and phones are embedding clinical-grade medical sensors. Prosthetics are already being produced on 3D printers at home. Consumers even have access to new diagnostics and data to get much better clarity on how they may ultimately die. The more these developments, and the next ones to emerge, scale to larger numbers of people, the more the whole industry will change.

This is how Unity Stoakes and his company StartUp Health sees the new world of health. Unity is a seasoned entrepreneur from the mid-1990s era of the Internet who waded into the healthcare world in 2005 with his long-time business partner Steven Krein. Together they co-founded StartUp Health in 2011. StartUp Health is what they describe as a health moonshot factory – an unusual blend of venture capital firm (with investments in no fewer than 215 companies in the health space), academy for entrepreneurs (an accelerator that maintains long-term relationships to their companies), and media platform. StartUp Health is trying to create the community of startups that its founders wished they had found when they first tried to navigate the complex world of health.

Now Unity knows the health space as well as anyone in the business, if not better. He sees five big trends that will transform the field in the next five years: Changing business models with outside players from Google to car companies entering the health space. The digital revolution finally hitting the field in ways that have already transformed less lethargic industries. The best tech talent in the world now shifting from jobs designing better ways to sell web ads to more meaningful work improving people’s health lives. The mounting problems of an aging population and chronic disease. And the geographic distribution of real innovation. Not all this action is happening in Silicon Valley, but rather, it’s taking place all over the world—including New York.