What focus will dRx Capital have in comparison to Qualcomm Ventures?

Built on Qualcomm Ventures’ years of investment experience in digital health, covering consumer health, as well as provider and payer related optimization, dRx Capital was launched by Novartis and Qualcomm as a joint investment company. dRx aims to catalyze the success of digital medicine products and services by investing in early-stage companies and leveraging our extensive networks in Pharma, mobile/IT and the investment community. The dRx team has identified a number of areas which intersect pharma and mobile/IT as our initial investment focus:

  • Pill+/Digital Therapeutics – Sensors, devices, Apps & services, which can be combined to enhance stand alone pharma products and med devices or pure digital therapy in lieu of the traditional “pill” to achieve benefits.
  • Infrastructure Tech for Pharma – Enterprise software to improve efficiency for R&D, Med Affairs, sales and/or marketing; Retrospective or real time data mining from internal and/or external sources for clinical or operational business intelligence.
  • New Business Models –  New clinical care delivery models, which might change distribution and/or payment methods.  Care management or coordination that may require pharma participation.  

Could you share with us a success story, which has demonstrated impact in regards to one of your investments?

AliveCor is one of our early investments in digital health.  The company pioneered Mobile ECG and AliveECG app, an innovative mobile health solution enabling patients to take control of their heart health. Since the product launched 3 years ago it has made a significant impact for many patients with heart conditions around the world. Dr. David Albert always quips: “we are saving lives every day.”  Here is a quote from a user,  Barbara who regards the AliveCor Heart Monitor as a huge relief, “I feel much more secure now that I have it. I can easily pull out my phone, sit there quietly and take my ECG. I also know I have the security of being able to email either my physician or use the overread service within the AliveECG app, a feature I have never had with any other event recorder.”  For more touching stories, see http://www.alivecor.com/for-patients

There is no shortage of startups trying to make it. What advice would you give entrepreneurs and those looking for funding?

Healthcare is complex with many hidden rules and dependencies. To breakout from a sea of digital health startups, get noticed and funded, VC investors often look for the following:

  • Clear drivers behind the adoption – Electronic Health Records (EHR), for example, was mandated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in the US, but not necessary in other jurisdictions.
  • Cross domain knowledge team – Many digital health startups are founded by clinicians who spot clear pain points in the system, but they then need a tech partner to build a solution which is sustainable and scalable. Conversely, a tech team who wants to update a healthcare IT system needs guidance from an insider to help navigate the maze.
  • Customer traction – Hospitals are known for “pilot to death,” and you cannot blame them, as they need to be sure since lives are at stake. Real adoption, for example, in a multi-year contract, can be considered good validation and may pique investor’s interests.
  • Learned experience from other industries – Health is behind the technology adoption curve compared to many other industries. Mobile and Internet have re-shaped many sectors. Such success, with the right adoption, can thrive in healthcare. However, unless the technology specifically related to life sciences technologies, the first trial in healthcare will raise some eyebrows, as an example avatar based UI/UX.


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