Health Assurance

Behind the Scenes of the General Catalyst and HCA Healthcare Partnership

August 18, 2021
min read

I remember the day when Sam Hazen, HCA Healthcare’s dynamic CEO, came to visit me in Silicon Valley.

I had long been an admirer of the work HCA Healthcare has done to innovate healthcare delivery, systems and outcomes. They understood from very early on the transformative role technology could play not just in enhancing care for patients–but also in terms of lightening the load for the approximately 140,000 nurses and active or affiliated physicians that work within the HCA Healthcare system. Early on they recognized there were opportunities to use technology to improve the patient experience and improve workflows. That sense of empathy for the people–both patients on the receiving end of care and those on the front lines providing it–led HCA Healthcare to seek alternative ways and new partnerships in service of creating better user experiences.

In 2014, HCA Healthcare took the bold step of acquiring PatientKeeper, an established mobile health company, as part of an ongoing journey to innovate the electronic health record and accelerate the digital transformation of care. They knew in order to create meaningful change for their teams, they would need to step outside of the traditional healthcare solutions and start to partner more closely with the technologists.

It’s not surprising HCA Healthcare took matters into their own hands and went looking for alternative solutions, because they have been a leader in identifying opportunities to accelerate the digital transformation of healthcare.

The great irony of the HITECH Act–the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act enacted in 2009 and intended to promote the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology– had none of the expected benefits for the healthcare sector. You’d be hard pressed to name another industry where the widespread adoption of technology resulted in diminished productivity, the need for more manual jobs, added cost, and the demoralization and exhaustion of the workforce. Not exactly what the doctor ordered.

We started Commure for many of the same reasons. We saw the need to create a common infrastructure and better software for care teams–sharing the same empathy for patients and providers that was the impetus for HCA Healthcare’s PatientKeeper deal.

So when Sam and I met, accompanied by Will Morrow, his SVP of Finance and Treasurer of HCA Healthcare, he brought both genuine optimism and healthy skepticism. But I knew there was a deep alignment of values and a shared commitment to build something transformational for care teams–the very same men and women who have put their lives on the line for us all over the last 18 months. My goal was to introduce them to the healthcare technology ecosystem we had been quietly building, and I was happy to find a potential partner who shared our view of the need for ‘radical collaboration’ between healthcare and technology.

At GC we have always said that you cannot ‘disrupt’ the healthcare space. You have to ‘radically collaborate’ with it. We believe the only way you can create systemic, transformative change is by bringing together the best of Silicon Valley’s innovations with healthcare’s real world use cases and applications. Only then can we create a system that is more connected, accessible and engineered for better experiences and outcomes for everyone. That is at the heart of GC’s Health Assurance thesis.

During the trip, Sam and Will met with a few innovators who I really respect and who are working to make a difference in healthcare. They saw firsthand some of the new innovations and connected solutions that could be transformative. We all began to realize the power of an even closer partnership between health systems and the tech world. HCA Healthcare saw it could have the benefit of access to that vibrant and ever evolving ecosystem, without the burden of having to build and manage new technologies for themselves and on their own. Until recently, the tech ecosystem didn’t really know how to successfully partner with with healthcare systems… so folks like HCA Healthcare, which has a significant IT operation and culture of innovation, chose to build solutions on their own. But our experience building companies like Livongo (acquired by Teladoc in 2020) has shown us that ‘radical collaboration’ between tech and healthcare can be powerful.

That visit was the first step in a journey that led to the deal we announced today–for HCA Healthcare to sell PatientKeeper to GC’s portfolio company Commure, enabling the creation of a scaled, state-of-the-art, cloud based system–well beyond what either company could accomplish on their own. It also led to the formation of a strategic partnership between HCA Healthcare and GC, also announced today, to allow HCA Healthcare to continue to tap into the energy and innovation of the technology world and GC’s growing health assurance ecosystem.

HCA Healthcare’s unique vantage point and domain expertise will help us understand so much about the real world use cases where technology can be deployed to help transform outcomes and ease the burden on providers. We’re humbled and eager to learn from them as we continue our journey to realize the promise of Health Assurance.

Very excited about this new partnership and this big leap forward. Thank you, Sam and the HCA Healthcare team.



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