As the investment arm of OSF HealthCare, OSF Ventures receives anywhere from 200 to 300 leads each year from companies developing innovative and exciting health care solutions. How does the team narrow that list down and determine what’s worth investing in with a small team of six?
From day one, OSF Ventures made it a priority to strategically invest in devices, technology and services that enhance the patient experience, improve patient outcomes, reduce the cost of care or help meet any other Ministry objective. As a result, the group engages clinical and operational subject matter experts early in the vetting process to provide feedback on whether an opportunity should advance to due diligence.
“They are a critical voice in helping our team understand whether a solution will solve a real need, be embraced by the people we serve or can improve the standard of care,” said Stan Lynall, vice president of Venture Investments for OSF Ventures. “And they are the first line of approval for a majority of companies that come into the OSF Ventures pipeline.”
How subject matter experts contribute
The OSF Ventures vetting committee is made up of clinicians and experts in innovation, partnerships and information technology. It meets biweekly to review opportunities from companies with solutions in everything from health information technology to diagnostics.
“As subject matter experts who have direct patient interactions, we can see how these products will fit into the clinical space and whether they have the potential to impact the people we see every day,” said Ryan Riech, MD, a physician in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics with OSF Medical Group. “We can bring that perspective of feasibility, usability, intrusiveness and cost that is necessary when evaluating how successful a solution will be.”
Having subject matter expertise on the front end of the investment process helps OSF Ventures consider whether to spend any more time looking at a particular solution. That’s invaluable as the team whittles down the number of companies it will perform deep diligence on.
“There are a lot of things in the innovative space that are just going to be a flash in the pan and won’t result in anything useful long term,” Jay Mathur, MD, an adult hospitalist with OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center. “We help bring focus to not only the effectiveness of a product right now but whether it’s in line with where we see technology, devices and care models going in the future.”
For perspective, OSF Ventures received leads from 232 companies through September 30 of this year. The group has done serious deep diligence on 25 of them. And it’s made investments in two companies.
What’s in it for them?
Drs. Mathur and Riech wanted to be part of the OSF Ventures vetting committee to not only see the innovative products being developed but to weigh in on items that can affect their work and their patients’ lives moving forward.
“The fact that the OSF Ventures team values clinical insight and opinion makes being part of the vetting process enjoyable,” Dr. Mathur said. “They’re listening to your advice, they apply it and you can see that in the investments they’ve made. It’s a great model for how health care companies can innovate in the right way.”
Acting as subject matter experts has also been a learning experience for both physicians.
“I really like discovering what’s out there, what makes a good company or a good pitch and what sort of products are available,” Dr. Riech said. “It’s also refreshing to know that OSF Ventures is always asking whether a new solution aligns with the Ministry’s interests, values and greater Mission. If it doesn’t, they don’t invest. And I think that’s neat.”