Venture Fair experts: The timing is right for mHealth entrepreneurs

By Diana Manos, Senior Editor
It's a great time to be an mHealth entrepreneur, experts said at Tuesday's Mobile Health Venture Fair, presented by mHIMSS, at the mHealth Summit.

With about 100 people in attendance, the event gave the opportunity for 20 emerging mobile health companies to present their products to potential investors.

"It's an extraordinary time to be an innovator in healthcare IT and mobile health," said Will Yu, director of innovations for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, in the session's opening remarks.

"We are the beacon in healthcare and training across the globe," Yu said. Yet, the way America pays for care frustrates providers, and there are conflicting incentives. "Billions of dollars in inefficiencies can be pulled out" of the system, he said.

"We can ration care or innovate our way out of this," he said. "If we don't interact with the innovators, we are going to fail as a nation because many of these innovations will die on the vine."

In the introductory panel on raising capital, a full cadre of financial and legal experts gave advice to attending entrepreneurs, indicating the market is hot for mHealth.

Lenard Marcus of Edison Ventures said the near-term American economy should see "lots of money" going into the healthcare IT space. "Venture capitalists know the healthcare sector is a good investment. In the near term, we're going to see the last dollars going into healthcare IT. It's a really good place to be right now," he said.

Howard Burde of Howard Burde Health Law said "everything" in mHealth is a ripe area for growth. Every technology used in the healthcare space is going mobile. "It is more and more difficult to bring a (healthcare IT product) to market if you don't have a mobile app to go with it," he said.

Despite the opportunities for emerging healthcare IT companies. Beth Cohen of Blank Rome, LLP, offered some caution. Gaining venture funding doesn't happen easily, she said. "The most important thing you can do is to think of your own creative financing. Always have a plan B."

"Realize that when you go talk to an investor, you need someone who is going to do a lot more than write a check," added Chris Hoffman of Triple Tree. "You need them to be in an advisory role."

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