What happens next: 10 non-COVID health care predictions for 2021

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Good afternoon, readers.

We’ve had an annual tradition as of late here at the Capsule: Featuring the sage wisdom and insights of Venrock partners Bob Kocher and Bryan Roberts, a duo of veteran health care investors, on what the coming year holds for the industry.

Bob and Bryan have been sharing their thoughts with us for years and, as strange and chaotic as 2020 was, this year is no different.

For the 2021 edition of their crystal ball-gazing, the pair offer up 10 predictions for the coming year. And in a twist, they span important medical topics and trends that don’t all have to do with COVID.

The full list is here. But here are some choice selections:

Virtual care for Medicare takes off

While there are not many silver linings to COVID-19, one benefit has been the dramatic increase in telemedicine adoption.  Medicare is covering telemedicine for the first time on an emergency basis. 

We think Medicare will make telemedicine coverage permanent.  This will lead to seniors, similar to millennials, preferring telemedicine to in-person visits for much of their care.

Recent evidence and an explosion of telemedicine use during the pandemic certainly supports that prediction.

No action on drug pricing

With the promise of multiple COVID-19 vaccines being invented and brought to market in record time, public opinion will turn very positive for pharmaceutical companies. This will squash all efforts to regulate drug prices for the next year (at least). 

And of course, no predictions list would be complete without an Amazon shoutout…

Amazon pharmacy gains traction

We have been perennially skeptical of big tech gaining traction in healthcare. One exception is Amazon’s new pharmacy. 

We think that Amazon will gain traction since COVID-19 has led to dramatically more eCommerce for all things and made pharmacies akin to nursing homes: scary places to visit since they are filled with sick and possibly COVID-19 contagious people. 

Amazon’s consumer trust, incredible delivery speed, and low prices will allow them to take meaningful share from retail pharmacies.

Get more insights from Bob and Bryan here, read on for the day’s news, and see you next week.

Sy Mukherjee

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