Lisa Suennen, Voice of Venture Valkyrie, Has No-Nonsense Take on Health IT

Xconomy San Francisco — 

There are a slew of venture capitalists who populate the blogosphere with their opinions and pearls of wisdom on, well, just about everything. But many of those VC bloggers—predictably—come from the tech side of the house. Fewer are blogging about healthcare investing. And fewer still are women. Now enter Lisa Suennen, a managing member of the venture firm Psilos Group Managers.

Suennen, who is based in the Bay Area (Corte Madera, to be exact), is the author of the blog Venture Valkyrie. The latter part of the name is inspired by a Marvel Comics superhero. (Valkyries are also female demigod figures in Norse mythology, and are central in Richard Wagner’s Ring operas.) To be clear, I had no clue that Suennen wrote a blog when I asked her to talk to me about investing in health IT a few weeks ago. And while she doesn’t claim to have the superpowers of a Valkyrie, her firm has had some super results with its health IT investments (more on those results later).

Suennen’s a regular visitor to San Diego, where she serves on the board of PatientSafe Solutions, a provider of handheld devices to deliver data to nurses that helps reduce or completely nix medical errors in hospitals. Psilos was a lead investor in the $30 million funding round to recapitalize PatientSafe.

New York-based Psilos, which has about $580 million under management, focuses its investments in three basic areas: health IT, healthcare services, and medical technology (including devices and diagnostics—but no therapeutics). While exact figures on Psilos’s returns are tough to come by, Suennen says that her firm performs in the top quarter of venture outfits. How so successful? By investing in firms that can prove that they improve quality, lower costs, and offer products or services that deliver clear value to the customer, she says.

“Our health IT practice is integral to our overall strategy because health IT is the means by which, in many cases, you can improve quality and reduce cost,” Suennen says. In their due diligence, she says, she and her partners make sure that companies can prove to them with customer feedback that the companies can actually improve quality and reduce costs. (Startups in the whiteboard phase and Internet projects need not apply.)

Suennen, 44, has been with Psilos since the firm launched in 1998. She joined the firm after … Next Page »

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