Do your homework. The consequences of not following that oft-repeated mantra when entrepreneurs prepare to pitch healthcare providers, pharma companies and payers was detailed by three panelists at the New York Digital Health conference. They also shared opportunities where entrepreneurs could contribute ideas.
Among the panelists were Leonard C. Achan Jr., Mount Sinai Medical Center chief communication officer who works on digital strategy;Wendy Mayer, Pfizer’s (NYSE: PFE) Worldwide Innovation vice president, and Martha Wofford, Aetna’s(NYSE: AED) head of CarePass, a platform that synchronizes data.
Mistakes What kind of mistakes have health IT and mobile health entrepreneurs made pitching Mount Sinai? Leonard C. Achan Jr. , Mount Sinai Medical Center chief communication officer who works on digital strategy, counted the ways.
Achan said he used to let entrepreneurs come in and just make their pitch. “They would get the Mount Sinai logo wrong — conversation over. They would get the finance structure wrong — conversation over. If you are going to deliver services that have an impact on saving lives [and you're an entrepreneur], don’t come in and charge more than Microsoft or GE would.”
As a result of that experience, Achan works with entrepreneurs more closely so there are no surprises in their presentation, rather than finding out when they have reached the last stage that it’s not a good fit for the hospital.
“When medical systems evaluate vendor apps, they generally look at it as 99 percent risk, one percent gain,” Achan said.
Mayer of Pfizer observed that a recent vendor day hosted by the pharmaceutical giant drew great ideas and interesting products but the entrepreneurs generally didn’t do a good job of connecting their products to Pfizer’s business.
Patient adherence Patient adherence is one area where providers like Mount Sinai are working on tools to manage the issue. It has embarked on a pilot using mobile technology and focusing on liver transplant patients. It’s also an area where pharmaceutical companies and payers are exploring ideas, particularly for a variety of chronic illnesses.
Advice Understand the company culture, particularly if you are pitching a hospital. There are likely to be more variables to consider. Is it administrative-led or physician-led? Who is the population? In an ideal world, startups should have someone on their team who understands the decision-making process behind the scenesat hospitals.
Interestingly, Mount Sinai has been hiring mathematicians and ex-quant traders to develop algorithms for predictive analysis for certain diseases.
“It’s not a walled garden,” Mayer said. “We’re definitely looking for ideas.” She pointed out that the company’s website provides some guidance for entrepreneurs.For example, its Integrated Health program is looking for tools to manage chronic conditions. The program was developed with the understanding that treatment extends beyond pills. “It’s about figuring out how we can provide a more holistic offering.”
Aetna’s CarePath platform launched in June this year synchronizes apps its members use for health and wellness, such as Fooducate and iTriage. So far it has connected 16 different apps. It’s looking for developers to unleash their creativity develop more market-leading consumer solutions.