On the podcast: Possibilities and limitations of digital contact tracing

Lee: And while public trust of tech giants may be shifting…

Kaia: Tech firms are increasingly entering the health space, and if they’re able to establish themselves as a health firm that people view in a safe manner and not just the Facebook and the Googles of the world, people are going to be much more comfortable sharing the information with them, even though these companies were previously known as Big Tech.

Lee: But the question still stands, Is government ready to embrace a shift or even an evolution to how solutions are broadly provided?

Josh: I think COVID presents a ton of opportunity for technology to really help evolve how society responds to disease. COVID has created an insane amount of incentive for everybody to be innovative and break out of their boxes. And it’s taken a marketplace, notably health care and health tech, which is incredibly slow, incredibly gummed up. Some of that is regulatory, but often I find regulation is used as the excuse; it’s because there’s a ton of incumbency and little incentive to move off the incumbents. And COVID has simply forced us to not have that orthodoxy. It’s forced us to say, “What can we do that can help?” And for policymakers or the large players to finally be willing to say, “Okay, the stakes are too high; we have to do it.” And you can look at that through all sorts of lenses. But certainly from an investment perspective, it’s really encouraging to see that willingness to now reduce the barriers to entry, to allow new technology-forward teams enter the marketplace. You know, before, if you were a technology company, really you were like a health care company that needed to have a deep bench of health care expertise and your technology was something you threw in the back and didn’t really want to talk about as much. And there are exceptions, but they are generally exceptions. Now, it’s actually okay to be an engineering-first company and want to do something in the medical space. And I think what we’re going to see, on the investment side, I think we’re going to absolutely find a whole bunch of venture investors who might have pooh-poohed health care or were intimidated by health care, now wanting to look at the space and hopefully make investments. I think we’re going to find new structures. Private equity firms are going to recognize that there’s a lot of incentive to roll up innovative entities that just don’t have the capacity to deploy their solutions at scale. And so that’ll be something to watch in the next couple of years.

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