Fostering Entrepreneurial Innovation: Startups and Beyond

By Healthbox, a HIMSS Innovation Company

Startups are hard in any industry, but the unique challenges in healthcare can make it one of the hardest. At Healthbox, we believe entrepreneurial innovation is a key component to accelerating healthcare transformation and support from industry leaders is crucial to this mission. How can we best prepare promising companies for success in what is a very difficult uphill climb to build a successful digital health company?

1. Establish Collaborative Partnerships with the Most Promising Early Stage Companies
There is no more valuable asset to an early stage technology company than a small set of great early customers. And like many things, this takes on even more importance in healthcare. Due to the conservative adoption behavior of customers in healthcare, knowing there are other credible organizations successfully using the solution is critical.

Additionally, solving problems in healthcare is difficult. There is no substitute for taking a set of well thought-out ideas and prototype software that automates those ideas and successfully proving it with real live customers. Partnerships with early stage companies also deliver great value to the organization by gaining the benefits of the solution as soon as possible through early access and ensuring solutions are well suited for their particular needs at the onset and as the product evolves.

2. Ensure Sufficient Funding is Available to a Broader Set of Worthy Recipients

While it is true there are record numbers of total dollars being invested into early stage companies broadly defined as digital health, there is not enough available for equally promising companies that may not have the same connections or pedigree as the ones receiving the funding. At Healthbox we’ve been encouraged to see new funds being announced that will be focusing on investing in emerging companies in healthcare, and believe that those with ties to strategic investors who can also possibly help as potential customers will be even better. Organizations can participate as limited partners in a strategically focused fund or through their own funds. Strategic investing provides the opportunity to benefit from the financial reward of a successful partnership as well as deeper visibility gained through regular access to novel and innovative technical approaches to solving some of healthcare’s most vexing problems.

3. Mentor Companies to Share Your Unique Perspective and Expertise

Beyond an organizational commitment to supporting the advancement of early stage solutions, individual support can be facilitated through mentorship. Although Healthbox no longer hosts traditional accelerator programs, we continue to support entrepreneurial innovation through the Healthbox Studio. The annual, five-day program works to advance ten digital health startups through peer-to-peer collaboration, speaker sessions and relationship building between the participating companies, Healthbox team, and a broad network of industry leaders. Throughout the week, we call upon healthcare executives to join us and share their expertise with the participating entrepreneurs. These executives are very busy, yet still make the time to participate to share their support. The ability to engage directly with these companies beyond a standard vendor presentation allows for greater context and deeper understanding to assess these solutions and we consistently receive feedback that mentors end up learning a few things in the process as well.

We look forward to the coming years when we will undoubtedly see new companies emerge that through technological approaches will help deliver better health outcomes at lower costs, while delighting patients in the process. With support from industry leaders, we can accelerate innovation in healthcare.

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