Software is about to eat chronic disease and save us $2 Trillion per year

This morning I headed over to BluePrint Health to hang out with some entrepreneurs. It is fair to say I have healthcare on the brain and I am going to write a little bit about why over the next few days.

To start, $2.6 Trillion is spent on healthcare in the US every year and 75% is spent on the treatment of chronic disease. This is really scary for the health of our country, but it is a huge opportunity for people who know how to build engaging software.

The key to reducing this massive expense is patient engagement – something that anyone who has built a product that people love knows a ton about.

When I was building my fitness game,we knew if we could motivate small behavior changes in the near term, we could improve (our mostly sedentary) consumers’ fitness level– and ultimately this noticeable improvement in their health would lead to lifelong habits. To get this done, we focused exclusively on consumer engagement.

Over the last few months I have been re-connecting with a lot of the people who helped me build my fitness game. These people have dedicated their lives to helping people live healthier lives and helping doctors close care gaps wherever they exist. I have also been able to connect with government leaders like Todd Park and innovators like the folks at start-up health. It seems there has never been a better time to have a consumer-centric mindset  in the start-up industry – especially if you care about solving the healthcare problem.

Changes are coming. Unprecedented access to data about providers, results of procedures and quality of hospitals and other care giving institutions will be expanding in amazing ways as electronic health records legislation ripples through the industry. The BlueButton Health project is a great example and this is just the beginning. Open data enables fundamental shifts in the way patients manage their health and it will influence trillions of dollars in annual spend.

The start-ups that most deeply engage consumers around this data – the ones that help them understand it, consume it and make it actionable — will have the most influence – and will create the most value.

Last July I talked about how the coming revolution in healthcare would be consumerized but I didn’t realize how fast this was happening. The US healthcare machine is massive, measured in $trillions. As with any big, heavy object, there is a ton of inertia, but it is moving – accelerating – and if you are an entrepreneur who wants to change the world, you should jump directly in its path. NOW. We have already made a couple investments in the space that are yet to be announced, and I am really excited to be focused here and to work with entrepreneurs in this world.

If you are building healthware, I would love to learn about it and help you if I can.