Moonshots for Health Care

It sounds a lot like Star Trek’s iconic statement, “Go where no man has gone before”

Paradoxically that is where we are at with health care, financially, technically and for access to care.

A strange coalescence of increasing needs, increasing elderly patients, and conflicting needs for financial resources has attracted investors, entrepreneurs to apply known and developing technologies across many disciplines ranging from biochemistry, genetics, material engineering, and artificial intelligence.

A Moonshot is, in the technology context at least, an ambitious, exploratory and ground-breaking project, normally undertaken without any near-term expectation of profitability, and without the full investigation of all potential risks and benefits to come further down the road.

Current Moonshots from Startup Health include supporting the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals for health and wellbeing by 2030 and a mission to improve the health of everyone on the planet by 2040.

Access to Care Today, healthcare is for the few, for those who live near more developed cities or towns, and for those with money. Fully half of the world�s population goes without needed healthcare. Lack of access to quality healthcare is a problem affecting billions of people across diverse economies in every corner of the globe. Access to care is about geography � is it a four hour drive to the nearest hospital? But it�s also about being able to afford the care once you arrive. To solve the access problem we�re building radical new solutions that address delivery, cost, geography, and technology. We will need to leapfrog legacy systems and dream up brand new ways of doing business.

Cost to Zero About 800 million people spend at least 10% of their household budgets on medical expenses, according to a 2017 report by the World Bank and WHO. That�s expensive enough to send 100 million people into extreme poverty. Mobile technology internet connectivity are flipping the cost of care paradigm. Telemedicine has dramatically lowered provider overhead. New population health startups are upgrading the way patients battle chronic illnesses, slashing costs. We�re on a moonshot mission to take costs from poverty- inducing all the way to zero. The only way that is going to be possible is for us to dismantle our understanding of health and rebuild the machine from the ground-up.

Cure Disease Heart disease. Cancer. Stroke. Obesity. Diabetes. Six in 10 U.S. adults have a chronic disease. These diseases, which accounted for tens of millions of deaths in 2016, are already within our power to treat or cure. Through basic apps run on smartphones, people can follow healthy diets and schedule recommended screenings. The bottom line: If a cure exists, it should exist for all, and health tech has the potential to be that democratizing ingredient. A moonshot to cure disease is about access, but it�s also about discovery. Groundbreaking advances in machine learning are increasing our capacity to understand the drugs we�re making, and how they will affect our bodies. This, in turn, is opening the door to faster cures and targeted medicines for rare diseases.

End Cancer Cancer claims the lives of millions, shattering families across every bracket of age, geography and economic status. By 2030, the number of new cancer cases per year is expected to top 23 million. Chances are, you know someone personally who has battled cancer. And if you don�t, you unfortunately most likely will. To defeat cancer once and for all, it is going to take true moonshot thinking. A global cancer moonshot is built on a level of collaboration we�ve never seen before. It�s going to require breaking down data silos between academic institutions, reaching across political aisles, and even sacrificing personal egos.

Women�s Health Being born a woman shouldn�t be a health risk factor. But in much of the world, it is. Achieving the Women�s Health Moonshot means widening the aperture on the definition of women�s health, focusing on issues that move beyond the current litmus test � sexual and reproductive health � to a standard of living well. This includes a women�s right to physical and mental health and wellbeing. According to the WHO, self-harm, including suicide, was the second leading cause of death globally among females, aged 15�29, in 2015. It means creating a world where individual women no longer have to shoulder the burden of advocating for themselves in order to get proper medical care, a world where they can rely on the medical system

Children�s Health  On one hand, we have cause to celebrate. Global annual infant deaths have been cut in half between 1990 and 2017. At the same time, we see massive opportunity for improvement. Every year more than 1.4 million children under five die of preventable environmental hazards like air pollution, hazardous chemicals, inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene. Nearly 100,000 kids under 15 die of cancer even though the vast majority of childhood cancers are potentially curable with existing treatments.

Nutrition & Fitness If we are what we eat, we�re a world of extremes, desperate for a healthy middle. On one end is hunger. According to UNICEF, in 2017 approximately 200 million children under the age of five suffered from malnutrition. Where malnutrition has been abolished, we�ve created an epidemic of excess. Obesity is now a primary cause of some of the world�s biggest killers, like heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Billions of people the world over are overweight, and 650 million are obese. Together we can create a world where all people have access to the foods they need to thrive, prevent disease, and stay healthy regardless of where they live. We also can build communities of support to help people control their weight and live healthy lifestyles.

Brain Health  With every new age has come startling, beautiful revelations about the human brain. How, like an intricate map, sections of the three pound mass can be tied to everything from speech to memory to personality. Yet the more we understand it, the less it appears like a map, and the more it opens up like an unexplored galaxy, full of mysteries and new frontiers. The Brain Health Moonshot means dismantling the old, siloed notions about basic neurology and searching its great depths to unlock its mysteries. No longer will we merely treat health challenges without connecting the brain to the solution. We will master the mechanisms of the brain in ways that will create new opportunities for health and wellness and then share them with the world.

Mental Health & Happiness  The DSM-5 tells us that there are approximately 300 mental disorders. We live in a world where 600 million people suffer from depression and an epidemic of loneliness threatens our elderly population. Advances in mental health research have shown us deeper and more nuanced ways of understanding how our chemistry and environments affect our brains, and our behavior. The Mental Health and Happiness Moonshot reimagines what it means to thrive, feeling whole inside and out. It means using telemedicine and smartphones to expand the reach of mental health services. It means gamifying healthy habits in a community of peers. And it means expanding our definition of happiness in ways that we can�t even fathom yet.

Addiction According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, close to 20 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2017. What�s clear is addiction is no longer anonymous, like the sign at meetings suggests. Its cords are reaching into families everywhere, ripping at the fabric of our communities. The time is now to fight back, to radically alter our thinking about treating addiction and ending the opioid epidemic. It starts by rethinking what�s possible. Together, with a unified will, global collaboration, and innovative health treatments, we can create a world where addiction is a crisis of the past.

Longevity  The Longevity Moonshot is just as personal as it is technical. Where you live greatly impacts how long you live. What public health experts refer to as social determinants of health�think housing quality, access to fresh food, water and air quality�are thought to be among the most powerful influences on a person�s health. As more people live longer, we need the ability to scale senior care in a way that addresses both medical and mental health needs in this older population. We need smart solutions to improve injury recovery. We need support and accountability to adapt a preventative mindset when it comes to our health in order to detect diseases earlier.

The groups are not listed in terms of priority.  Behind each of these goals are people and companies already on their moonshot.

Present and previous moonshot companies have videos explaining their goals.

What is your Moonshot ?

   For those of us who like meetings, Startup Events are listed here

Startup Health is an internet driven organization whose purpose is to attract other high-minded entrepreneurs to health care as an investment opportunity.   We are all invited to join the effort.

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