Google Ventures is searching for unconventional healthcare startups to back

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When it comes to investing in the biotech and health-tech startups, it can be hard to find a company that can turn an idea into a reality.

For one, developing new treatments is no small feat. And there is often a lot of interest concentrated on certain "buzzy" areas like immunotherapy or machine learning .

GV, formerly Google Ventures, has invested in a number of life sciences startups, including 23andMe, Foundation Medicine, and Flatiron Health. The life sciences team focuses on areas that are what Dr. Krishna Yeshwant said can look "nontraditional."

There are a few key areas Yeshwant, a GV general partner who leads the Life Sciences team, told Business Insider he's looking to invest in, providing he finds the right company.

Here are the areas in the life sciences that GV wants to invest in:

  • Physician burnout, which has become an increasingly big problem as doctors spend more time on electronic medical records. The question Yeshwant's looking to answer: "Where are the places where we can intervene to continue getting the advantages of the electronic medical record while respecting the fact that there's a human relationship that most people have gotten into this for that's been eroded by the fact that there's now a computer that's a core part of the conversation."
  • Adherence, or how well people take their medication as prescribed. It's something everybody wants, from the drug companies to consumers.
  • Neurology , especially looking for new treatments for pain.
  • Using information technology to help build the concept of a learning healthcare system.
  • Inflammatory conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis. Yeshwant said that while there's been some progress, there's an opportunity to break the conditions down into more specific segments that can get more targeted treatments.
  • Infectious diseases , an area GV's already made a few investments.
  • Medical devices, which like infectious diseases, haven't received a lot of funding in the past.

But just because GV is interested in these topics doesn't mean there will be any rush to invest in them immediately. For some things, like adherence, Yeshwant said GV has spent two to three years looking for something.

"We've seen too many companies that are scanner, a pill-counter, electronic reminder, none of which we found to be fully compelling yet," Yeshwant said. And that's typically the case for most of GV's life science investments. That way, when a company that fits the bill does surface, the team is ready to move quickly.

One example Yeshwant gave was GV's investment in Quartet Health, a New York-based behavioral health startup. Yeshwant, a practicing physician, had noticed that patients were coming in with physical health complaints, such as a rash or joint pain.

"We often don't talk about the underlying depression, the anxiety, the issues that actually ultimately affect all those other conditions," he said. GV spent years looking for companies that could tackle that before coming across Quartet.

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