Justin Butler explains Eclipse Ventures’ GenAI Investment Thesis and how GenAI will impact healthcare

Blog justin butler explains eclipse ventures genai investment thesis and how genai will impact healthcare

In the latest installment of our BrightInsight Digital Health C-Suite Series, I spoke with Justin Butler, partner at Eclipse Ventures, about the firm’s investment thesis when it comes to GenAI, the potential of GenAI and digital to improve patient-provider communication, and how AI- powered platforms, tools and technologies will enable data sharing. Here’s a recap of our discussion. You can watch the interview here, and other interviews in the 2024 JPM Digital Health C-suite series here.

Eclipse Ventures led our Series A financing round, and participated in both our Series B and C rounds. BrightInsight is squarely in Eclipse’s investment sweet spot, as Justin explained, "we started the firm back in 2015 very specifically to invest at the intersection of the physical and digital economies. We see an opportunity to bring novel digital tools to old-line physical industries like supply chain, manufacturing, transportation, logistics, and healthcare. Really, the industries that make up the everyday part of our lives. What sets Eclipse apart from other VCs is that they’re a team of operators. They come from places like Tesla, Flextronics, Apple, Samsara, DuPont, GE, etc and have deep operational expertise in everything from engineering, to finance, to sales." As Justin shares, they "stand by and partner with entrepreneurs to help them build world-changing companies in the most important industries of our society."

The Eclipse Thesis for Investing in GenAI

Eclipse views GenAI as a tool to distribute expertise more broadly across the world.

One of the VC’s early investments was in a company called Cerebras that has built the world's largest computer chip for AI training. “When we first made that investment back in 2016, we said, hey, what if you could take the world's knowledge of all pathologists and encode that into an actual kind of computer algorithm?” That would help to democratize care – enabling patients to be treated anywhere, not just at world-class institutions or in major metro areas.

Investing across the stack for GenAI

Eclipse has been investing in AI for several years now across the stack for GenAI, everything from the core silicon chips used to do the computation, to a company like Bright Machines that is building the hardware backbone powering AI…."all the way through to companies like BrightInsight and Rune Labs, that are leveraging GenAI tools to help patients understand some of their symptoms better, to help clinicians and patients interact more efficiently and more clearly, and really allow them to focus on the differentiation and things that matter, and the actual insights they can develop from data."

It's all about the data

Healthcare is delivered episodically, so a patient may see their HCP annually, and then perhaps a few more times a year for check-ins. A person’s health changes in between those appointments. With the proliferation of wearables like glucose meters, apps and other digital tools like Apple Watches, there’s a huge amount of data that can now be collected. "But actually searching through that data, understanding what it means, pulling out the actual meaningful parts of it, can take a long time."

Justin believes there’s opportunity here for GenAI tools to "give us the means to really understand that data in a meaningful way, and transform healthcare from this episodic care to much more of a temporally-continuous set of care. So that we can look at fluctuations in day-to-day life, and really help patients improve their overall quality of life, deal with any disease or issue they may have in a much more meaningful way."

Patient-provider interactions will improve

Writing up notes is time consuming. GenAI and other technologies can synthesize all of the data to make it actionable and easily used by providers. "I think there's going to be a lot of opportunity for streamlining, efficiency and better overall patient provider interactions."

The role of platforms and partnerships to enable GenAI

So how should biopharma and life sciences companies looking into GenAI get started? Justin suggests that finding the right platform partner is important. "They're absolutely crucial."

"One of the things that we do know about GenAI… It requires a lot of data from a lot of different kinds of sources. And right now there's a lot of silos between medical institutions, pharmaceutical companies, patient populations, payors, all of the above."

"And we need to figure out what kinds of platforms, what kind of tools and technologies are going to allow us to share that data while respecting patient privacy, while respecting very specific trade secrets, while protecting proprietary information to pharmaceutical companies."

"And that's why a company like BrightInsight, that has full regulatory capabilities and full transparency to say, hey, this is where and how your data is being used, is of the utmost importance."

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