General Catalyst (GC), one of America’s largest venture capital firms, has raised about $15 billion since it launched more than two decades ago. It has backed companies that were once relative unknowns like Airbnb, Instacart and Warby Parker. It sees itself as an agent for change — working to transform companies, industries and the world.
Over the past several years, however, GC has become increasingly focused on health care with its Health Assurance Ecosystem initiative, which is designed to create a more proactive, affordable and equitable system of care.
In May, General Catalyst partnered with another tech-focused venture capital (VC) firm, Andreessen Horowitz, to co-lead a $50 million seed round to bring a startup called Hippocratic AI out of stealth mode.
It is using the money to build its safety-focused large language model for health care that can help ease workforce shortages and burnout. It’s a text-generating artificial intelligence model designed for nondiagnostic, patient-facing applications with such use cases as explaining benefits and billing, providing dietary advice, delivering negative test results that indicate when nothing is wrong, onboarding patients and more.
GC’s vote of confidence in Hippocratic AI’s technology fits with the VC firm’s mission: to invest in powerful, positive change that endures and to approach company building with responsible innovation.
Hippocratic’s AI models were trained under the supervision of medical professionals. It only releases each role once the people who do that job in real life deem that the model is ready.
Transfixed on Transformation
GC increasingly has become focused on engaging and supporting startups like this and bringing together transformation-minded health care systems to reduce friction, inefficiency and cost while accelerating innovation, said Daryl Tol at the recent AHA Leadership Summit.
Tol, former CEO for Advent Health’s Central Florida division, now heads GC’s Health Assurance Ecosystem, which includes 19 health system partners like HCA Healthcare, Intermountain Health and Jefferson Health. Health Assurance Ecosystem and its partners work together to identify opportunities to build lasting, innovative solutions that will transform health care.
“There is no reason multiple health systems can’t work together to build a virtual nursing command center or a patient experience platform. There’s not enough of this happening in health care,” Tol said.
Along with convening partners to address common challenges impacting the field, GC’s other top health care aims are to provide capital for innovative startups and to be an aggregator that builds some of the machinery and capabilities to help accelerate transformation.
4 GC Health Assurance Ecosystem Priorities
1 | Bridge building is a must.
GC has hired a team of long-tenured health system executives like Tol, former Intermountain Health CEO Marc Harrison, M.D., and others to work hand in hand with health systems and innovators to create transformation that endures. GC’s leaders know that transformation is occurring in health care; they just don’t believe it’s happening fast enough nor is all the needed equipment in place yet.
2 | Transformation must become more digestible.
The GC team is helping its health system partners break transformation into pieces so they can demonstrate success quickly and hold ground while doing it, Tol explained. “How do we increase the momentum? How do we create scale so that health systems maintain their regional footprint and their strength and can still play on a national stage? These aren’t easy questions to answer, but we’re working on it,” Tol said.
3 | Health care needs better middleware.
Health care is fragmented and it is difficult, if not impossible, for a single health system to aggregate the technological capabilities of companies like Optum, Amazon or CVS Health, Tol said. And while health care has a solid, established infrastructure with electronic health records and enterprise resource planning tools to support operations, many other technologies today are merely point solutions that don’t provide interconnectivity, interoperability and the ability to plug in data. “We’re thinking about how to take combinations of point solutions and put them in a rational mixture with middleware. Who does it? How does it get built? We don’t have to do it all. We just need to find great partners, collaborate and put this together in a way that makes sense for health systems,” Tol said.
4 | Everyone needs to see the picture on the box.
Transformation is like a puzzle or Lego set. Health care is siloed and people are focused on their individual pieces of the puzzle, Tol said. Each piece may look great in isolation, but it’s tough to envision how it fits into the larger puzzle without seeing the picture on the box. “That’s what General Catalyst is trying to do,” Tol said.
See What You Missed at the AHA Leadership Summit
This video provides highlights from the recent conference in Seattle.