Daryl Tol, General Catalyst CEO

Gen­er­al Cat­a­lyst’s Daryl Tol lays out why he thinks he can help health sys­tems trans­form them­selves

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Gen­er­al Cat­a­lyst is one of the most pro­lif­ic in­vestors in health­care star­tups, but the firm has al­so been think­ing about how it can trans­form ex­ist­ing health sys­tems. In 2022, it hired Daryl Tol, a long­time health sys­tem ex­ec­u­tive, to head up its ef­fort to build a health in­dus­try that’s more af­ford­able, ac­ces­si­ble, and bet­ter at care.

As part of that ef­fort, known as the Health As­sur­ance ecosys­tem, on Oct. 8 the firm un­veiled its lat­est big at­tempt: a new com­pa­ny called Health As­sur­ance Trans­for­ma­tion Cor­po­ra­tion (HAT­Co for short). It’s led by for­mer In­ter­moun­tain Health­care CEO Marc Har­ri­son, and one of its big plans is to buy a hos­pi­tal sys­tem.

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While he didn’t com­ment on the spe­cif­ic work HAT­Co is do­ing, Tol did speak with End­points News about the ap­proach he’s tak­ing at Gen­er­al Cat­a­lyst.

Step­ping out­side the chaos

“With­in a sys­tem, it’s hard, hard work to ad­vance ideas,” Tol said. “There are a mil­lion ideas. They’re all try­ing to be ad­vanced. And you’re re­al­ly do­ing it from the cen­ter of a whirl­wind.”

Lead­ers at health sys­tems are liv­ing in that whirl­wind, and Tol said he would have want­ed some­one who could serve as ad­vi­sor, like what he’s do­ing now at Gen­er­al Cat­a­lyst. Ide­al­ly, the Gen­er­al Cat­a­lyst team can bring fresh eyes from an out­side per­spec­tive, “see­ing things that are hard to see from in­side” to think about the fu­ture.

“That’s the con­trast,” Tol said.

Health sys­tems share com­mon pri­or­i­ties

As part of its Health As­sur­ance strat­e­gy, Gen­er­al Cat­a­lyst is writ­ing a trans­for­ma­tion play­book for its health sys­tem part­ners. When asked how that might ac­count for the dif­fer­ent shapes and sizes of health sys­tems, Tol said they share more sim­i­lar­i­ties than ex­pect­ed.

“There are a lot of imag­ined dif­fer­ences among health sys­tems. But the prob­lem set and the trans­for­ma­tion re­quire­ments are ac­tu­al­ly very sim­i­lar,” Tol said.

For in­stance, health sys­tems are fac­ing is­sues with their work­forces that they need to change, they have to find ways to be more fo­cused on con­sumers, and they need to move, as Tol put it, “from bricks and mor­tar to clicks and mor­tar.” Yes, some might be in a stronger fi­nan­cial po­si­tion than oth­ers, the make­up of how many gov­ern­ment-fund­ed pa­tients they serve might vary, and they might be more rur­al or city-based. Even in­ter­na­tion­al­ly, Tol said, there’s com­mon­al­i­ty among health sys­tems.

“The need to em­pow­er con­sumers, trans­form the work­force, move to clicks and mor­tar, these are very com­mon,” Tol said. “So it’s ac­tu­al­ly been com­fort­ing, be­cause I would have imag­ined more dif­fer­ence.”