I had a long conversation with Todd Cozzens Thursday about his future—and ours. Cozzens is still in Boston, but is finishing his first full week there as a venture partner—essentially the East Coast eyes and ears—for Silicon Valley-based Sequoia Capital, a premier private-equity and venture-capital firm with a long track record in technology investing.
Cozzens: 'We're at top of the first inning' of biggest change in healthcare
Most recently Cozzens served as the CEO of the accountable care solutions unit of Optum, part of UnitedHealth Group. But health information technology community members probably know Cozzens best as the leader of Picis, a Wakefield, Mass., developer of software for emergency, surgery and intensive-care departments and hospital financial information systems. Cozzens was with Picis for 14 years and was its vice chairman and CEO when it was acquired by UnitedHealth in 2010.
Cozzens says he's already been assigned to the boards of several companies— Sequoia is invested in six healthcare firms so far, including a couple of health IT firms—and he'll be scouting out healthcare companies with proven business models in need of additional capital, mentorship and board work.
Cozzens says he was “really happy” with his old job, but the offer from Sequoia was irresistible at this stage in his career, and at this inflection point in healthcare history.
“We're at the top of the first inning of the biggest change we've ever seen in healthcare,” Cozzens says.
The soaring cost of healthcare, taking unsustainably bigger and bigger bites out of the nation's gross domestic product, is driving the change. That will continue, whether or not Obamacare survives its legal challenge with the Supremes, according to Cozzens.
Three other key trends—all beginning before Obamacare—also will drive change. First is the consolidation of hospitals into networks, followed by the ongoing affiliation or acquisition of physician groups into those networks, ending with the provider networks reaching sufficient scale to launch their own health plans-with that trifecta leading to complete integrated delivery networks.
Cozzens envisions major U.S. population centers “where one IDN becomes the predominant IDN in that market, both on the physicians side and the hospital side.” Payers “are always going to have a role but it will be a changing role,” serving as claims processors on the back end, Cozzens says.
Health IT firms will be wrenched by the same transition, with population health, care management and, especially, data analytics, becoming key system requirements, Cozzens says.
“The EMR has done a very necessary task of computerizing the workflow and the flow sheets that were done on paper,” he says. “It's done nothing with the data. It's done very little with decision-support and business analytics and intelligence. The race will be who will build the right system. It will be a race between the payers, the big EMR and the technology service companies like Optum, and the new companies built (from scratch) around the need for this.”
“There will be more disrupting technologies coming in,” he says. “I'm sure of it.”
Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn.
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