What do hospitals want from prospective digital health partners?

how digital health startups can better approach hospitals
How digital health startups can better approach hospitals.

How can the growing number of digital health startups sell their products to large-scale healthcare enterprises? Earlier this year, Rock Health, a San Francisco-based venture fund dedicated to digital health, conducted 30-minute interviews with executives at multiple startups and a few large healthcare organizations. They identified several key sticking points: navigating the internal complexities of hospitals, finding the right buyer, identifying the product’s value proposition and relevance to the hospital and avoiding “death by pilot.”

Now, in a Rock Health podcast, John Brownstein, PhD, Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Innovation and Digital Health Accelerator and Adam Landman, MD, MS, MIS, MHS, Chief Information Officer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and part of its Innovation Hub, offer further tips from the inside. They were hosted by Rock Health’s director of research, Megan Zweig.

Here are some key pointers from Brownstein (at left) and Landman.

Solutions hospitals are interested in:

  • virtual visits/online patient interactions with physicians
  • the ability to remotely monitor patients
  • using healthcare data to augment practice, in an accessible, intuitive way
  • voice technologies for clinicians to get information on demand
  • help for patients who face practical hurdles, like transportation and accommodations
  • making better, more efficient use of staff, facilities and equipment
  • ways to create a better patient experience from beginning to end
  • solutions that will reduce, not increase, clinician burnout.

What hospitals want to see from digital health startups:

  • evidence that their intervention will provide a return on investment
  • evidence the intervention will meet the quadruple aim — improve health, improve quality/safety, reduce costs and improve the clinician experience
  • evidence the company is familiar with healthcare and has thought through privacy issues
  • the ability to integrate with existing hospital systems and workflows
  • tools that don’t create more work, that can be easily learned and adopted
  • a clear path to broad adoption across an organization, and an understanding of the time and resources this takes.

Challenges to be tackled:

  • finding the right people in the organization who will champion the idea, and who have the support of leadership
  • finding time and sometimes compensation for clinicians testing out new products
  • having enough staffing to implement the technology and help patients use it
  • educating staff about the product and software updates
  • sometimes, legal and marketing issues.

Both Brownstein and Landman stressed that they are open to partnering with startups. Brownstein suggested that industry events might provide the best way for entrepreneurs to start a dialogue, rather than a cold call or email. For more, listen to the podcast.