Andreessen Horowitz Bio + Health Fund and Bassett Healthcare to address rural healthcare needs

The partnership will accelerate the New York-based rural health system's strategic goals by connecting it with entrepreneurs and venture investors to empower its tech-enabled transformation

digital health future

Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) Bio + Health fund announced a strategic partnership with Bassett Healthcare Network, an integrated healthcare system in central New York state. The collaboration aims to leverage digital healthcare technologies from a16z’s portfolio companies to address the inequities and systemic challenges of delivering high-quality healthcare to rural patient populations through Bassett Healthcare Network. The two organizations share a common vision of broadly reimagining how digital health solutions and processes at scale may transform these valued yet significantly under-resourced healthcare delivery networks.

Why does it matter?

Bassett Healthcare Network, whose history dates back more than a century, today provides care to thousands of people annually across five hospitals, more than two dozen community health centers, and over twenty school-based health centers across a 5,600 square mile service area. Through this partnership, Bassett Healthcare Network will have access to the companies a16z Bio + Health has backed as well as the broader a16z ecosystem, which comprises innovative companies in relevant fields including enterprise tech, fintech and consumer services. The a16z and Bassett teams will also collaborate to identify emerging areas of unmet need that could benefit from technology-enabled solutions.

The partnership between the two organizations is an element of Bassett Healthcare Network’s vision to leverage digital health to advance the patient experience, assure financial sustainability and position the organization for long-term growth. Already, several collaborations are underway with a16z’s portfolio of companies, specifically in the areas of automation, clinical AI and home health; the a16z Bio + Health portfolio can be viewed here. The firm backs bold entrepreneurs who are engineering biology and reimagining healthcare, investing in founding teams from seed through growth stage.

Bassett Healthcare and a16z have formed an executive committee for the partnership to explore innovative technologies and platforms, align priorities and oversee the implementation of the related tech-enabled transformation.

On the record

“Health systems serving rural communities face challenges distinct from those in more densely populated areas, including less access to innovative tools and services that could help us better serve our patients and support our practitioners and care teams,” said Tommy Ibrahim, MD, MHA, President and CEO of Bassett Healthcare Network. “Partnering with a16z will significantly improve our access to the most innovative digital health technologies and, more broadly, allow us to together truly understand how rural health systems can implement effective, scalable tech-enabled solutions to improve patient health.”

“Bassett Healthcare Network is doing transformative work at the intersection of digital and rural health,” says Paul Uhrig, Chief Legal and Digital Health Officer for Bassett Healthcare Network. “This partnership with a16z and their portfolio companies opens the door for Bassett to not just better serve our patients but also create a framework and infrastructure that help build healthy rural communities across the country.”

“Our mission at a16z Bio + Health is to partner with entrepreneurs dedicated to improving the sustainability of the healthcare ecosystem. Rural healthcare systems stand to gain more than perhaps all others in the ongoing transition to the tech-enabled future we are committed to bringing to fruition,” said Julie Yoo, General Partner at a16z. “The entrepreneurs we support are pursuing solutions that will push ahead that evolution to an improved and more accessible health care system regardless of where that care is provided. The a16z team shares with the forward-thinking leadership at Bassett Healthcare Network a deep-seated optimism about the healthcare innovation that will result from infusing digital health solutions into rural care networks.”

“The tech-enabled future of health requires alignment and partnership from stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem,” said Marina Kusserow, Partner, Business Development for a16z Bio + Health. “a16z is proud to be both a catalyst and a convener as we help shape a better future of healthcare that we know is attainable.”

The context

The COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences continue to exacerbate the health disparities present in rural communities. While these systems struggle to address systemic issues, including the intensifying healthcare worker shortage and the needs of an aging population, investment and interest in digital health innovation have increased markedly as a potential solution. Next-generation digital health tools and technologies present a potential lifeline for healthcare organizations with fewer resources than their urban and suburban counterparts.