How Should Startups Navigate Healthcare Systems: Advice from Hospital Innovation Officers

12 May

By Shaoyu Chang, MD, MPH, Senior Research Manager, LSN

Shaoyu 10*10

More and more healthcare institutions are opening their doors to innovation, eyeing on the opportunity to save costs, increase efficiency, and boost patient satisfaction. Partnership with large and reputable institutions can provide valuable, sometimes make-or-break, resources to startups such as patient data, pilot testing, clinician endorsement, and early validation.

However, unlike big vendors who easily know their way around large institutions, it is a daunting task for startup teams to navigate such massive healthcare institution as MD Anderson or Texas Children’s Hospital. How to engage large institutions? How to align incentives? Is there is a right time to start a dialogue? In the most recent RESI conference at TMCx accelerator on April 11, innovation officers from four top-tier medical centers gathered to shed some light on these questions.

Moderated by Rebecca Kaul, Chief Innovation Officer, MD Anderson, this session will feature:

Key takeaway points on this panel:

  • Finding the right champion for your technology.

Many startups get referred around an institution without building real relationships. Entrepreneurs need to find an insider who will endorse your product. Usually that person is not a C-level executive, but someone who has done research in your field and understands the value of your product. The initial buy-in is critical to get traction.

  • Understand each party’s incentive and set the right value proposition.

Academic institutions are motivated to adopt innovation that can help them serve their mission. But they are also concerned about liability and long-term maintenance costs. Startups need to lay out their added value in tangible, quantifiable measurements. For example, administrative products could offer efficiency gains, cost saving, or revenue gains; clinical products could demonstrate improved patient outcome, and clinician time saving; and patient engagement products could show impact patient on satisfaction scores.

  • Come in with a partnership mindset.

Healthcare institutions are willing to engage in dialogue with companies at all stages. However, there is a significant difference between a partnership discussion and a typical vendor-customer sale. Startups seeking a partnership need to clearly state what they are seeking from a healthcare system partner, whether it is data access, pilot testing, or clinical expertise. In return, startups also need to know what levers they are willing to pull, such as free use of the product, downstream royalty on the sales of the product, and equity in the company.

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