There are certainly lots of ideas floating around the healthcare space these days. Most hackathons focused on HC receive the same submissions over and over again from founders looking for funding, recognition, connections, etc.
I work with a few founders in different spaces but still operate full-time within a health system so am curious feedback from a pure-entrepreneur perspective: once your MVP is developed, what are your biggest struggles to move forward? For example, understanding hospital/health system sales processes, customer networking, etc.
This is a great question and it's something I'm thinking a lot about right now. Off the top of my head:
1) Sales - we've managed to find some great initial customers, but growing beyond those initial warm introductions and existing connections has been tough. Definitely understanding the sales process and the various regulatory hurdles required at health systems is something we're continuing to learn about.
2) Funding - arguably it takes longer to bring a software product to market in healthcare versus consumer tech and finding investors who understand the industry and are willing to take on early risk takes a lot of searching!
3) Building the team - I'm sure this is a universal challenge, but particularly finding software engineers who have the right skills and are motivated to work on healthcare problems that at times can be pretty unglamorous (eg. EHR integration, data export tools, etc) is not all that easy.
4) Getting enough clinician feedback - it has been a struggle to get in front of as many potential users as we'd like. As a clinician myself, I guess we were able to bootstrap a lot of that, but getting quality time with the right people been a challenge (getting better now we have customers).
Of course none of these are insurmountable :)
Sales...I have been running my platform for 4 years. It is way beyond MVP and well received by all clients. I just don't have a sales team, and barely make due. I am the primary developer and also need to work other projects on the side in order to make it. Chicken or egg kind of thing.
The issue is finding the clients that would be interested. Closing and selling is easy if they are on the phone, in front of me, or in my niche (Health, Life and Ancillary Insurance Sales Call Centers).
Most people who want to "help" are just in it for monthly fees, or short term contracts. They don't really help.
Makes me think about opening a call center myself, I know so much about health insurance sales due to my software, but in terms of lead gen I am stuck. I could easily handle 10 - 100x the users we have and it would set us up perfect for the future.
We've been working with a lot startups and the most successful stories - when build fast - go to the market and see at customer's responses. analyze it and change some features...again to the market and etc...
Understanding the decision criteria and buying process. If hospitals made this more transparent I think they would receive better offers customized to their needs. Also, the disconnect between the reality of users (who may not have, or feel that they don't have a voice) and decision makers.
I've had the MVP ready almost 3 times and I keep falling back to development mode for the following reasons:
2.- The sense that in a competitive market some flaws in the system will not be tolerated, and glitches keep coming up.
3.- I've changed beta test market a couple of times for reason number 1 so I go back to dev to adapt to that new strategy and the changes cause old glitches to come back.
4.- Cost of implementing HIPAA compliance is the latest hold back...so while we wait we are back in dev mode. (HIPAA and user agreements). I am hoping bugs don't make a come back with the server changes for HIPAA.
5.- Panic persists...
may be these points are inherent to pre-funded startups but that has been my experience. For 2 months now, I keep telling the early adopters lined up that product will be launched early next month. i might need to find myself new early adopters if this keeps getting pushed back.
- Expect a very long sales cycle if selling to a hospital, 6-9 months or longer, even for something small. Everybody in the C-suite has a big say in purchases: CFO, CIO, CMO
- You'll also need an internal champion, totally gung ho and even then corralling that C-suite is hard. I'm ignoring the possible politics in any sales situation involving multiple people
- dealing with HC IT. IT gets dumped on. They already have a hundred new projects that they have to implement, while keeping everything running. They're ignored while everything is going great, but get blamed terribly when things go wrong. They're usually just trying to keep their heads above water and they have no bandwidth to think ahead.
Usually the CMO (chief medical officer) is the champion, because they are forward thinking and expect the new software will help clinicians help patients.
The CFO will expect an ROI beyond some vague "docs and patients will feel better", because the hospital doesn't run on feelings.
And the CIO will throw up their hands because they're already way behind on the projects already on the backlog.
So if you can make all of these people happy somehow, the sales cycle will be towards the 9 month range rather than longer (I know, still very long when everything is going your way).
(the technology itself, HIPAA compliance, BAAs, concerns about patient info privacy are hardly ever show stoppers, just minor speed bumps)
Great question. Honestly, the lack of a burning platform on the provider side is the biggest hindrance. For the most part US Healthcare isn't and doesn't operate like a true market, so the need to move fast to keep or attract customers is lacking, provider panels are full and health systems make money. We are seeing cracks appear as smaller, nimbler players enter the market (think typical Clay Christensen approach) and this is causing revenue to walk out the door at the traditional systems. Our research shows that for large health systems, 30% of their best customers receive care outside the system's scope of services, not for a lack of services, but primarily because they don't know their customers desires and expectations. Our company is helping systems understand their customers better...before they become patients. Once revenue is at stake, its amazing to see the speed pick up from the C-level on down.
From my perspective the most challenging is building the business model that can be plugged into existing health care ecosystem.
I was the CTO of a healthcare startup. To answer your question in one word: HIPAA. To expand a little, HIPAA in the context of EHR integration.
Could you expand your question I'm not very sure I understand you