With all the technology available today, society as a whole has never been more involved in their health. From calorie counters and step trackers to sensor-operated glucometers and all the way to robotic surgeons, technology arrived on the healthcare scene and changed it forever.
Patients are more engaged, doctors more equipped and hospitals more hi-tech than ever. For the entrepreneur, the healthcare sector can be a creative paradise — or a labyrinthine jungle.
So how does one navigate the uncharted waters of the healthcare industry? Researching and thinking hard about this question can help entrepreneurs develop a solid business model that can stand up to competition, and fulfill healthcare’s loftiest goal — to help people and save lives. These five questions will serve as a map for healthcare entrepreneurs and guide your decision-making.
What is the Problem I am Trying to Solve?
A good idea works because it solves a problem that bothers people — even if they don’t know that they were bothered by it to begin with. Some entrepreneurs start by identifying a problem in the field on their own, sometimes even through personal experience.
Others start by asking questions, and try to pinpoint the market need. The solution isn’t always easy to find, but you’ll probably know it when you see it. The good news is that even with all the innovations in healthcare, it remains one of the most problematic and complex industries today. You’ll have plenty of problems to choose from!
Who is My Target Audience?
Knowing your audience is what makes the difference between a great product that’s a user favorite and an equally great product that no one has ever heard of. Which one would you prefer your product to be? The answer is obvious, but getting there can be tricky.
One of the problems in the healthcare industry is that there are many different stakeholders with different objectives and value proposition appealing. Payers, providers, ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations), pharma companies, patients and doctors sometimes want different things.
A product aimed at patients would be vastly different than one aimed at healthcare providers, and vice versa. However, sometimes a product can benefit both — better quality of care, better quality of life, improved efficiency and lower cost of treatment. These products are the ones that really strike gold, as they propel the healthcare industry into the future and improve care.
Will this Solution Dramatically Improve People’s Lives? Is the idea disruptive?
Healthcare is a difficult business. Unlike games or lifestyle products, the stress and emotion of healthcare and illness create a situation in which the customers come to the table unhappy, worried and possibly uncooperative.
It is perhaps easier said than done, but the answer is actually simple: a healthcare product — app, wearable or device — that really improves people’s lives, makes them healthier, happier and safer, will appeal even to the most disconsolate patient. If it enables higher quality of care and lower cost of operation, it will be of interest to all stakeholders. Healthcare entrepreneurs have their marketing work cut out for them if they want to create a significant disruptive and value added solution.
How Will I deal with Regulation?
Healthcare is one of the most regulated environments today. It has to be, since we are talking about people’s lives. Regulation is a necessary difficulty, and for startups, there needs to be a fine balance between how fast you’re running ahead and how safe your product is. For this reason, it’s important to do your homework in advance, and inform yourself on all the regulatory practices and processes your process will need to undergo, and to take into consideration any limitations this might have on your business model.
What Should My go-to-market Strategy Be?
How will your product reach its audience? It’s one of the toughest questions to answer for a new business, because you need to not only define your audience and your goals, but also take all of your current limitations into consideration. Therefore, when considering this question, entrepreneurs should think: What is the best, fastest and widest go-to-market approach with the lowest barriers for me to overcome?
Then comes the planning. At this stage, there are several guidelines to keep in mind: Make sure your go-to-market is the right one to your audience and value propositions, make sure you know the relevant regulation processes and act accordingly, and most of all, make sure the patients are number one on your priority list!
Healthcare is one of the most exciting industries today. We all need it, so everyone is a consumer. Many different aspects converge in healthcare: technology, insurance, social good and legal issues. Even problems that appear to have been solved can be given better, stronger, longer-lasting and easier-to-use solutions. It’s important to never let competition, long regulation processes or failed studies get you down.
Every company goes through slumps and disappointments, but a good idea with the right approach and the right partners can go far. There’s plenty of room at the top!