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Healthcare Startups Getting Hyped

May 04, 2017

Fortune, as I’ve mentioned recently, has the benefit of a good name, one we’ve had for 87 years. So when we have a conference on the confluence of medicine and technology, as we did in San Diego this week, it’s an opportunity to talk about how that exciting business is being financed.

Wednesday morning at Brainstorm Health I hosted a vibrant roundtable discussion that asked where the smart money is going in healthcare IT and related fields. I have followed this topic only a little over the years as it never has been a core focus of investors in information technology, my area of coverage. Those investors are veering out of their lanes and into healthcare of late, in part because of the massive opportunity—regardless of what happens in Washington.

Curiosity isn’t always a good thing for investors. Ted Maidenberg, a venture capitalist with the newish firm Social Capital has been dabbling in medical investments. He astutely sees parallels with another tangent he and has peers followed a decade ago: “clean” technology, which I always insisted on calling by its proper name, alternative energy. Both fields, notes Maidenberg, are not totally economically sound, benefit from government subsidies, suffer from a surplus of hype, and tend toward the experimental rather than the commercial.

Maidenberg sees a silver lining in the potential demise of “Obamacare.” A lessening regulatory tailwind tends to force startups to sink or swim on their own merits, “which is fine by us,” he says.

For more on this financing panel, Fortune’s Erika Fry has a slightly more expansive take than mine here. Our voluminous coverage of the conference reflects the depth and breadth of the event. I particularly recommend this sobering interview with Mark Bertolini, CEO of insurer Aetna, and this inspirational session with Last Mile Health CEO Raj Panjabi and the heroic Nahid Bhadelia of the Boston University School of Medicine.

Adam Lashinsky
@adamlashinsky
adam_lashinsky@fortune.com

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