What I've been up to...
...and more to come
I’m back! I missed writing for this newsletter, but a lot has happened the last few months. I started a new editorial job for the Bio + Health team at a16z, where I relaunched the Bio Eats World podcast. I also moved to Austin and got engaged to my long-time boyfriend, Marshall. So I have an excuse for not publishing.
That said, one of my goals for 2023 is writing more frequently, both in this newsletter and elsewhere. I’m working on a new project that’s related to healthcare but incorporates my interest in politics, history, big projects, etc.—more to come.
As mentioned, I’ll be writing in this newsletter more frequently this year, and I might occasionally crosspost an a16z project I’m particularly proud of having worked on/edited. For this newsletter, though, I wanted to re-up a few of the podcast episodes we released in 2022 that I think are worth attention.
Bio x Games: Is a Fun, Therapeutic Game Possible?
I recorded this episode with Bio + Health general partner Vijay Pande and Games general partner Jon Lai. It was a difficult episode to research—mostly because fun, therapeutic games don’t really exist yet.
As I wrote last year before I joined a16z, the digital therapeutics category (which may encompass therapeutic games) exists on a border between prescription and alternative intervention. As therapeutic games may develop in the future, where they land as a category (and how that affects their reimbursement) remains to be seen.
I really liked this episode because we acknowledged the big gap at the middle of the Bio x Games nexus—can you create something that’s as fun as a traditional game, while being therapeutic, even potentially accessing a part of the brain that standard pharmaceuticals can’t reach?
The Consolidated Drug Channel and Cash-Pay Drugs
If you can fan-girl a guest, I did so with Adam Fein, the CEO of Drug Channels Institute and author of the Drug Channels blog, who joined this episode with me and Julie Yoo, Bio + Health general partner. As followers of Acute Condition know, I’m obsessed with specialty pharmacy and the weird world of pharmacy in America, and Adam is a source of data and information I’ve relied on frequently.
We treated this episode as more of an entry-level overview of PBMs, the 340B program, and the consolidation at the heart of the industry—but given how confusing pharmacy and the drug channel can be, I learned a lot from this episode.
AI is Here. Now What?
Another guest who’s always the best: Eric Topol. He joined Bio + Health general partners Vijay Pande and Vineeta Agarwala, and me, on this episode. He previously joined the a16z podcast in 2019, where he talked about AI adoption in clinical settings. Since then, a lot has changed—and not. AI technology has grown by leaps and bounds, Covid upended how many people choose to receive care, but AI still isn’t a common feature in the practice. We talked about barriers to that adoption and what could happen to reach the ideal.
Relatedly, we’ve been releasing a few new pieces on AI in bio and health, including a video featuring Vijay talking to Marc Andreessen, and a podcast episode with Vijay and Jakob Uszkoreit, cofounder and CEO of Inceptive.
Thanks for reading this update, and back soon with many more thoughts :)
This information shouldn’t be taken as investment advice (obviously), and the opinions expressed are entirely my own, not representative of my employer or anyone else.
Please also see a16z.com/disclosures for additional relevant disclosures.
hell yeah, welcome back
Welcome back! Enjoy your writing. Just a comment on digital therapeutics. There are many efficacious digital therapeutics but because the 3 major PBMs control the merchandizing and prioritization of items on their formularies, I wonder if the PBM is a limiting factor in their adoption? What feature of a pbm platform actually showcases the availability or importance of these therapeutics? Further, working with many value based provider and health systems, I’ll tell you that many/most of the most enlightened providers don’t necessarily understand the whole area of digital therapeutics and their potential efficacy for patients.