spruce, and the future of healthcare


from my early work in bioinformatics as a phd student to my involvement in rock health to helping fix healthcare.gov, the opportunity for software to reshape the healthcare industry has been a longstanding area of interest. ‘digital health’ is now hotter than ever, and for good reasons:

1/ consumerization of healthcare.  we as consumers bear more of the cost of our healthcare than ever before (the avg deductible is now $1200, up 2x from 5 yrs ago). as we navigate the healthcare system on our own paying out of pocket, we will vote with our $ for good experiences at affordable prices. this creates an enormous opportunity for innovation.

2/ software finally making inroads in healthcare. nowhere is this more obvious than with the ubiquity of mobile for both patients and doctors. mobile sw stands to improve access to care and improve inefficient workflows.

3/ opportunity for impact. healthcare is one of the largest sectors of our economy ($2.7 trillion!), and yet one of the most inefficient. great entrepreneurs and software teams are increasingly attracted to the opportunity to do things better/faster/cheaper in healthcare and have a real impact on human lives.

it’s against that backdrop that i’m excited to share kpcb’s series a investment in spruce health, where i’ll be taking a board seat. spruce is re-inventing healthcare delivery in a mobile world.

‘telemedicine’ (connecting patients with care providers for remote diagnosis and treatment) is finally taking off, but is still in its infancy relative to the opportunity. spruce’s approach is distinctive, and i think it’s reflective of where the industry will go — moving beyond access to focus on quality and innovation.  not content to be simply a communication channel paired with a md network, spruce wants to be a better way to see the doctor. they work with top medical advisors to build out — one medical condition at a time — comprehensive care experiences that use software to innovate upon everything from how you visit with the doctor, to how you get your rx, to how you follow your treatment regimen, to how follow-up care occurs.

building out high-quality, comprehensive experiences uniquely tailored to each medical condition requires focus. so while the team at spruce have broad ambitions, they launched last fall supporting a single condition – the treatment of acne by board-certified dermatologists. both patients and dermatologists loved the product, and today they are announcing support for a broad set of dermatological concerns beyond acne. the product solves a big problem: skin concerns are the #1 reasons for visits to the doctor in the US, and yet the wait time to see a dermatologist is 29 days and both patients & their doctors complain about communication and adherence in traditional care settings.

i’m excited to be along for the ride with the spruce team as they continue to build out their vision. this is a uniquely strong product, design, and engineering team who built highly successful products at aws, fb, twitter, and other top engineering orgs. i look forward to seeing more teams like them tackle healthcare head on – as a country we need it.


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