5 strategic reminders for healthcare startups

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Marti Nyman

Marti Nyman

Some advice is good enough to repeat and repeat and repeat. Marti Nyman is managing director of Altavail Partners, LLC, an innovation, strategy and business acceleration consultancy. He also writes at Think. Act. Grow. He recently spoke at a meet up of Healthcare.mn to share advice about building a new company. The advice is not new but it’s easy to forget when you are focused on tactics and details of your unique company.
These are my favorites from his list. Visit his blog to read all 10.

1. Talk more, share more – One of the challenges I see in the entrepreneurial community in healthcare is there’s a lack of robust conversations going on between the startups and the rest of the industry (including doctors, insurers, other startups). As a result, we see a TON of early stage healthcare startups who don’t appear to have a full understanding of the industry they’re seeking to win in. Talk. Reach out. Converse. Make sure you’re connecting to a LOT of people in the industry.

4. Learn and do your homework
– Tied to #1, this lack of dialogue and seeking to learn from the players in the industry results in startups who may have an idea with potential but have huge blind spots. If you’ve got an idea, please don’t start your company without a number of extensive and thoughtful discussions with players in the industry, to see if you’re looking at the problem right. There’s a lot of qualified companies in this space – if you think you’re onto something, ask and learn, “why hasn’t _(company)__” done this yet?”

5. Make sure the problem is real – There’s plenty wrong with the healthcare industry today, but just because it’s wrong doesn’t mean it’s a problem that’s seeking a solution. There’s a lot of simple, quick ways to find out if the problem, as you see it, is truly a problem and more importantly, people are willing to pay someone to do something about it. Ask prospective customers a simple question, “Would you be willing to pay someone to fix this/improve this/change this?” And then ask, “why?” Keep asking “why?” until it’s clear they’re serious about this problem.

6. Be sure you’re providing value – Think about the explosion of health-related mobile apps out on the market today. Just because you can code up an app and get it online doesn’t mean it’s providing value. The challenge with all these apps is they’re just temporary – they’re not creating lasting value. And this industry needs things that’ll create enduring, lasting value, not something that’ll garner 10,000 downloads and be ignored in 2 weeks. In addition to learning and listening to the industry players, be real clear that what you’re going to provide is of VALUE to whomever you’re selling it to. This may not be easy to see or discern – you’ll need to deeply understand who it is you’re serving, what their circumstances and needs are and just how motivated they are to have this problem solved.

8. Leverage Human Centered Design tools – Another evolution that’s making a difference in how entrepreneurs look at their business is the advent of applying Human Centered Design principles into their process. Folks like Ideo and the Stanford D-School have offered up their tools for free so make sure to learn about them and see where they can apply. While you’re not expected to be a master in human centered design, it can provide you with some great tools to think expansively about the problems you’re trying to solve and the people you’re trying to solve them for. A great HCD toolkit can be found here.

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Veronica Combs

By Veronica Combs

I am the editor in chief at MedCityNews.com. I started writing and editing in the print world and joined a dotcom right before the 2000 crash. I was at TechRepublic/CNET/BNET for 7 years. Health was more interesting to me than the latest version of Windows, so I left for a startup tracking prescription drug news. A year later, MedTrackAlert was acquired by HealthCentral, so I shifted to audience research. The fun of daily news and interviewing smart people brought me to MedCity News in February 2012.
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