March 8, 2023

Behind the Scenes at STVL – Health Care

Over the next several months, we will bring you Behind the Scenes at ST Ventures Lab to share our strategy to invest in or build solutions to problems in the criminal justice system, education, the economy, and health care.


Our team approaches this space with a fundamental challenge – how to help individuals gain direct control and influence around their health, healthcare services and financing (including insurance) choices. With that simple, but powerful mandate, we are actively working to solve the following:

Social care meets health – improve the lives of individuals, lessen demand for healthcare services

There has been increasing acknowledgement that factors such as food security, housing stability, access to education and economic opportunities and more are more significant in driving health outcomes vs. medical care delivered by healthcare institutions. However, efforts to date have been focused on referrals to social care organizations and other steps to close these transactional gaps. Our team approaches the market with a different hypothesis – that individuals who could benefit most greatly from social care from underserved and overlooked communities have not been engaged with dignity. We’ve been thrilled by the human-centric approach and results of Marigold and Samaritan to-date:

  • Marigold – Shrenik Jain founded his platform to battle substance use across the country. More importantly, he saw the importance of trusted community peer support provided by others with lived experience – all in a confidential setting – to help everyone find their path to recovery. There’s no single solution that works for all and Marigold supports an individualized journey for their members.
  • Samaritan – Jonathan Kumar saw the value of human connection, and the power of those relationships for individuals. He saw it first hand as he helped unhoused men and women connect with others in Seattle. Those relationships compounded into life changing outcomes for many individuals, including escape from poverty and economic stability. Jonathan is now taking this idea to scale via a healthcare start-up that exclusively serves chronically unhoused individuals via provider and Medicaid partners.

These solutions place consumers at the center of their work, and are steadfastly committed to transforming how and when care is delivered instead of being satisfied with improvements at the margins.

Innovation diffusion – unlocking the potential of highly diverse and motivated provider systems

There are more than 620,000 doctors, 6,000 hospitals, and 14,000 health service delivery sites in the United States. It’s a simple representation of diversity in our provider market. Rather than viewing this as a challenge to drive change, we see an opportunity to rapidly experiment and learn quickly across this diverse landscape. Each institution is on their track to change healthcare. Imagine if we could compound this effort and view this market landscape as an opportunity? We are building a new company that is re-thinking innovation across health care as not only the need to create new, but the need for a chassis to diffuse amazing ideas quickly. We have exciting updates as we are ACTIVELY incubating a new company with major partners, and are excited to share more in coming weeks.

However, our single solution is not enough. Do you know other entrepreneurs who are rethinking innovation in the health care system?

Payment innovation – healthcare insurance we want, not what we are given

Employers and payors drive health plan design and bare the financial risk in the process. In this way, these third parties, not patients, are the true customers of health care. There has been a major push for price transparency to better inform patients, but we believe transparency alone is insufficient to empower patients as the center of the health care ecosystem — change that is needed in order to drive competition and innovation based on patient satisfaction and outcomes, not services delivered.

That’s why STVL has been at work to launch a research & development project that will inform ways to serve patients directly through the disruption of existing payment models.

What else is on the horizon?

Beyond these areas, we are constantly seeking to learn. Through discussions with amazing entrepreneurs (we see some of you on this list), we are actively looking at new problems to solve, including how to motivate a market place of solutions for individualized journeys towards health as well as what the future of healthcare delivery could look like, particularly in underserved and rural markets.

Stay tuned with us!