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She says the response just over a century ago prompted the rise of interventional medicine — treating illness through surgery or medicine only after symptoms manifest. Today, interventional medicine is the dominant mindset in Western healthcare. And, Melton, a lead investor in health tech startups including Livongo, Tia and Calibrate, says the care pathway ages well.

Enter personalized medicine. The buzzy yet powerful framing is growing in popularity among Silicon Valley startups. It’s a delivery system in which patients receive more holistic care that takes into account multiple symptoms or comorbidities. In hormonal health, for example, personalized medicine could add more data and specificity to which birth control someone takes, instead of the usual process of trial and error. Essentially, it’s the opposite of interventional medicine.


“Oftentimes it’s not new ideas, it’s conflating a number of factors that come together at one moment in time that allow exponential change that makes a startup work,” Melton said, of the boom and recent activity in MSK medicine. Today, we’ll focus on three startups taking different approaches to help people suffering from chronic pain and MSK-related conditions: Clearing, PeerWell and Hinge Health.

“We’re not just an arm or a leg, we’re not just obese or a diabetic or a pain sufferer,” Melton said. “How do we treat you as a whole person?”

As the pandemic unevenly roars on, Emily Melton, founder and managing partner of Threshold VC, is reflecting on a previous public health crisis: the Spanish flu.