Stanford Health CEO David Entwistle joins Redesign Health's board. Here's why he's bullish on digital health

David Entwistle has a storied career as a healthcare executive leading new innovations and steering strategic growth at academic medical centers. As the CEO and president of Stanford Health Care, he spearheaded the completion of the new state-of-the-art Stanford Hospital, which opened four years ago.

He now wants to drive innovation in the startup world, to essentially "accelerate the journey from idea to clinic." Entwistle has joined the board of directors at New York City-based Redesign Health, a healthcare startup creator that has built and launched 50 healthcare startups since 2018.

"Redesign Health has an impressive track record of building innovative companies that address some of our most pressing needs in the healthcare industry. In just five years, they’ve created more than 50 companies, focusing on ways to enhance equity, affordability, access and quality in patient care," Entwistle said in an interview with Fierce Healthcare.

profile photo of David Entwistle
David Entwistle (Stanford Health Care)

"With the rapid advances in biomedical discovery and technological innovations, we’re in an era of great promise for transforming the health of our patients and communities," he said.

Companies built at Redesign Health have touched more than 14 million lives, according to the company, and span diverse areas of healthcare including medical billing, mental health, metabolic health, cancer care navigation and infusion care.

Some of the names that have come out of Redesign Health in the past five years include Jasper Health, which helps cancer patients manage treatment, Dan Trigub's MedArrive, men's health startup Vault Health, metabolic health company Calibrate, Peppermint, an online clubhouse community for older adults, technology-driven mental healthcare startup UpLift and other ventures.

In September, Redesign Health nabbed $65 million in fresh funding to jump-start dozens more startups. The round brings the company’s post-money valuation to $1.7 billion, according to a source with knowledge of the funding, Fast Company reported.

Redesign Health plans to tap into Entwistle’s expertise in artificial intelligence, value-based care and workforce transformation to help drive collaborative innovation at scale, executives said.

"David is an uncommonly effective leader, who understands what it takes to make an impact in healthcare,” said Brett Shaheen, CEO of Redesign Health in a statement. “I’m confident his deep industry knowledge and wealth of experience will advance our mission of delivering a new innovation model in healthcare—helping to create a more equitable, accessible, affordable and high-quality experience for all.”

Before joining Stanford Health Care, Entwistle served for nine years as CEO of the University of Utah Hospital & Clinics and, prior to that, served as senior vice president and COO at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics. In his current role, championed the development and implementation of an integrated strategic plan for Stanford Medicine.

"I’ve gained a deep and nuanced understanding of the healthcare landscape and what it takes to improve outcomes, achieve clinical excellence, and elevate the patient experience," he said of his academic medical center leadership experience. "As a board member at Redesign Health, I look forward to drawing on my experience and expertise to help shape strategy and continue the organization’s strong trajectory."

Entwistle is bullish on the potential for AI to "revolutionize health and medicine—when implemented thoughtfully and responsibly."

"These systems are already helping to speed diagnosis, increase efficiency in administrative work, and inform patient care decisions. Most importantly, they hold great promise to augment our clinical teams, helping us to improve outcomes and keep our care centered firmly around patients’ needs," he said in an interview.

He also sees opportunities to continue to leverage telehealth, remote monitoring tools and virtual care platforms to address existing gaps, especially in patient access. 

"We saw this during COVID-19, when there was an unprecedented acceleration in video and virtual visit expansion. But there is so much more we can do, from electronic provider-to-provider consults to online second opinions for patients. These tools expand access, increase efficiency and even reduce carbon emissions as they cut back on car travel," Entwistle said. "Most importantly, they enhance the patient experience, helping us to provide the right care, in the right setting, at the right time."

The digital health market is facing big challenges in the current economic climate. Many startups are facing harsh realities by laying off employees, seeing slower growth and raising "down rounds" as valuations fall and investors are more cautious about placing bets.

After a wild ride in 2020 and 2021, the digital health funding market is entering a new reality with fewer deals and smaller average check sizes. In the first six months of 2023, U.S. digital health startups raised $6.1 billion across 244 deals, according to an analysis by Rock Health, a venture fund dedicated to digital health. While that $6 billion seems like a hefty amount of cash, that's down considerably from $10.4 billion raised in the first half of 2022 and an eye-popping $15.1 billion raised in the first six months of 2021.

Despite these headwinds, Entwistle sees opportunities as digital health's fundamentals remain strong.

"While the funding landscape can be challenging, it also means startups are pushed to think more strategically, focus on truly value-driven solutions, and collaborate more deeply with established entities. Innovations should be more than just the next shiny object competing for our attention. They must be relevant and practical, with a demonstrable use case for adding value to health care delivery," he said.

He added, "Redesign Health bakes this rigorous thinking into their model for company development, tapping industry expertise to solve real-world problems and make a meaningful difference in health and wellness."