Individual Health in the Time of COVID
Our funds focus on individual health; thus, obviously, we view the impact of the COVID crisis from a unique VC perspective. Here are some observations that have emerged from our recent experience.
COVID is accelerating changes in health care.
With hospitals overwhelmed, clinics closed, and practitioners locked down, digital and AI platforms that before the pandemic only contributed to supplemental care are now being asked to actually dominate care. We have long expected the transition from institutional centricity toward personal centricity in care, but thought it would take years to happen. Due to COVID, it is happening now. The shift toward at-home individually-driven care will expand hugely this year and will never return to the status quo ante.
COVID is increasing consumer focus on personal space.
Being isolated at home, consumers are rethinking their views on personal space, how to use it, and what it means to them. In the pre-COVID world of external work and outside activities, for many, the home was a place mostly just for quick breakfasts and sleeping. In a locked-down world, it has become the center of existence. We are seeing a persona rethink of furniture, water, food, entertainment — -every aspect of personal space. It’s too soon to know exactly how this shift will play out, but we’re experiencing a deep change in the concept of home and hearth. Even when things open up, personal space will remain a much more specialized and transformed element of life.
COVID is deepening existing trends toward self-reliance.
The rising generation is showing increasingly worldwide signs of self-reliance. They want to be the masters of their universe. They co-participate. They demonstrate. They speak truth to power. They don’t want to be dependent on any traditional power structures. This has expressed itself for some time in increasing interest in products that allow one to stand alone to control one’s own outcome. COVID is radically accelerating this alteration. We are seeing products focused on growing one’s own food, controlling personal water, directing personal experience, and owning individual mental health and mood. We stand at the edge of an era of self-reliance. Products and companies that facilitate self-reliance will rise.
COVID is altering the worldwide approach of science.
Science has always been more collegial and cooperative than business or politics. But suddenly, pressed by the desperate need to find a COVID vaccine, science has become entirely borderless. Efforts and data are shared worldwide as never before. All the brainpower and capacity of global science is brought to bear on a single problem in an unprecedented way. Individual government policies don’t seem able to blunt this forceful internationalization of effort. We hope and expect that the genie of coordinated worldwide problem-solving in science, once loosed, will never be limited again.
COVID isn’t a singularity — it is the initiation of a new normal.
We know life will open back up. It already is in many places. But whatever happens post-COVID, it won’t be a return to what we had before. The phrase “a new normal” has been bandied about enough to become trite. But COVID will produce exactly that. Our future will not entirely resemble our past. The power of the pandemic has propelled the world to an alternate track. It will take years to fully know how the new normal will differ from the old, but we can see already that those differences will be profound.
We don’t live in the same world we did a few months ago. COVID has driven a fundamental alteration of the individual health landscape.
By Managing Partner Mike Edelhart