Wests launch $100 million health investment fund

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 19, 2011        

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Gary and Mary WestGary and Mary West, the co-founders of the West Wireless Health Institute, launched a $100 million investment fund, called the West Health Investment Fund, that will provide capital to cutting edge health care technologies and services that aim to substantially reduce the cost of care. A regulatory filing published last year disclosed that the Wests had already invested in Sotera Wireless, a wearable vital sign monitoring technology startup.

In September 2010 MobiHealthNews reported that West Wireless Health Institute had launched a $100 million venture fund, based on comments made by Qualcomm’s Don Jones at an industry event in London. At the time, the institute told MobiHealthNews that no such fund existed.

Clearly, it does now.

“The Fund is a logical next step for us, as we work to create a vibrant ecosystem around health care innovation to lower health care costs,” Gary West stated in a press release. “Since Mary and I established the West Wireless Health Institute in 2009, we have seen literally hundreds of companies focused on innovative and low cost health care solutions that cannot find funding. Without financial support for low cost health care innovation, the research we do at the Institute and the work other agencies, institutions and entrepreneurs are undertaking will have a tougher path toward becoming a reality and actually lowering health care costs for the public.”

Here’s the type of company or startup the fund is looking to fund:

“The Fund’s areas of interest include health care technologies, data analytics, technology-enabled services, cost transparency, and interoperability,” the press release states. “These areas offer significant opportunities to transform health care delivery and lower health care costs encountered by individuals, health plans, providers and governmental programs like Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans’ Administration.”

With the launch of the fund, the Wests have announced investments in five other healthcare technology companies:

Biological Dynamics: The company is developing “next-generation diagnostics technology” that could “enable physicians to detect cancer from a simple blood draw and rapidly intervene.” Change Healthcare: The company offers a “web-based decision support tool that provides consumers with personalized views of pricing information and alerts on where to save money on routine healthcare services including medical, dental and prescriptions.” goBalto: Another “web-based solution” that aims to “simplify pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device clinical research.” Healthsense: This company offers “monitoring sensors and solutions [that] alert family members and providers of potential health problems before they become acute, enabling seniors to remain healthy and independent.” Humedica: This is “a clinical informatics company whose cutting-edge analytics for health care organizations delivers a truly longitudinal and comprehensive view of patient care.”

Interestingly, most of these companies are not specifically using wireless technology. The focus is on lowering the costs of care instead. Also, and this is perhaps less surprising, Gary and Mary West will not individually profit from the investments made by the West Health Investment Fund — the benefactors plan to commit the fund’s returns to medical research, according to the release. “The structure also differs from a traditional investment fund, as there are no management fees, there is no carried interest, and compensation for the manage­ment team is salaried.”

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More details in the press release below:

Gary and Mary West Announce Formation of the West Health Investment Fund, LLC

$100M Fund to Provide Risk Capital to Lower Health Care Costs and

Invigorate Low Cost Health Care Innovation

SAN DIEGO, CA – October 19, 2011 – Gary and Mary West, co-founders of the West Wireless Health Institute, today announced the formation of a $100 million investment fund with a unique mission – to lower health care costs. The West Health Investment Fund, LLC will provide risk capital for companies with cutting-edge health care technologies and services that offer the potential to substantially lower the cost of health care.

With recent declines in investment funding in key health care sectors, the West Health Investment Fund will fill a critical gap, to spur the development and adoption of health care innovations specifically focused on making health care more affordable.

“As entrepreneurs, Mary and I are acutely aware of the pressing need to do something about the cost of health care,” said Gary West, Co-Founder. “We see a void in investment funding focused specifically on lowering the cost of health care. We are launching the West Health Investment Fund to help close that gap and to provide resources to companies who we believe are going to help drive down the cost of health care for the benefit of individuals and society in general.”

Added West, “The Fund is a logical next step for us, as we work to create a vibrant ecosystem around health care innovation to lower health care costs. Since Mary and I established the West Wireless Health Institute in 2009, we have seen literally hundreds of companies focused on innovative and low cost health care solutions that cannot find funding. Without financial support for low cost health care innovation, the research we do at the Institute and the work other agencies, institutions and entrepreneurs are undertaking will have a tougher path toward becoming a reality and actually lowering health care costs for the public.”

The West Health Investment Fund’s initial portfolio includes:

· Biological Dynamics, whose next-generation diagnostics technology may enable physicians to detect cancer from a simple blood draw and rapidly intervene, increasing patient survivability while driving down the cost of care;

· Change Healthcare, whose web-based decision support tool Transparency MessengerTM provides consumers with personalized views of pricing information and alerts on where to save money on routine healthcare services including medical, dental and prescriptions;

· goBalto, whose new generation web-based solutions simplify pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device clinical research;

· Healthsense, whose in-home monitoring sensors and solutions alert family members and providers of potential health problems before they become acute, enabling seniors to remain healthy and independent;

· Humedica, a clinical informatics company whose cutting-edge analytics for health care organizations delivers a truly longitudinal and comprehensive view of patient care; and,

· Sotera Wireless, whose new generation of continuous vital signs monitoring improves the safety of patients on the general floor of hospitals, while at the same time reducing costs.

“We are thrilled to be one of the inaugural portfolio companies in the West Health Investment Fund,” said Doug Ghertner, President, Change Healthcare. “Gary and Mary West’s vision to invest so creatively in health care innovation really resonated with us, as we work to create solutions that help consumers make informed decisions about health care and place the power of purchasing directly in their hands.”

The Fund’s areas of interest include health care technologies, data analytics, technology-enabled services, cost transparency, and interoperability. These areas offer significant opportunities to transform health care delivery and lower health care costs encountered by individuals, health plans, providers and governmental programs like Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans’ Administration.

“Today’s announcement moves us one step closer to tangible health care solutions that will lower health costs for the benefit of the public,” said Don Casey, who was named Manager of the West Health Investment Fund today and also serves as CEO of the West Wireless Health Institute. “As both successful entrepreneurs and philanthropists, Gary and Mary West have created a truly unique Fund. Financial returns from the invest­ments made will sustain the mission of the Wests’ philanthropic endeavors to discover and develop new tools to deliver low cost health care more efficiently and effectively, rather than benefitting any corporation or individual.”

Gary and Mary West will not individually profit from the investments made by the West Health Investment Fund, committing returns instead to medical research. The structure also differs from a traditional investment fund, as there are no management fees, there is no carried interest, and compensation for the manage­ment team is salaried.

The West Health Investment Fund targets primarily early stage opportunities with a strong preference for pre-commercial and early commercial companies. Its preferred investment candidates will value strategic partnership in addition to investment capital.

For more information on the West Health Investment Fund, please visit www.westhealthfund.com.

ABOUT THE WEST HEALTH INVESTMENT FUND

The West Health Investment Fund (www.westhealthfund.com) is the first investment fund with the mission to lower health care costs for the public by providing risk capital for cutting-edge health care technologies and services. Launched by entrepreneurs and philanthropists Gary and Mary West, the Fund aims to spur an entirely new ecosystem for health care innovation that lowers health care costs.