Recent news tells us that digital health startups drew record investments in the first half of 2017. Sadly, according to research by Accenture, more than half of those digital health startups are likely to fail within two years following launch. How do digital health teams launch products that succeed?
At Health 2.0 2017, a panel of leaders who have worked in the trenches discussed the most important observations relating to the success of digital health products. The panel was led by Datica CEO Travis Good, who recently published the first Digital Health Success Framework (DHSF) — a road map that lays out the key considerations along a linear timeline, like compliance and interoperability strategies, for teams at startups or large enterprises who want to go from an idea to market adoption without making missteps along the way. Good was joined by:
Partner of Providence Ventures, the strategic venture capital arm of Providence St. Joseph Health
Medical Director of Omada Health
Director Emerging Health Technology, Cedars-Sinai Accelerator, powered by Techstars
You can listen to the following recording to hear the whole panel discussion or peruse some of our favorite quotes from the panel below.
Panel Recap Highlights
Q1. Does the business model of a digital health product factor as the biggest reason of later failure or success?
Carolyn Jasik: “You actually have to be selling something that people want to buy. This seems so obvious but so many companies miss this. Digital health vendors need to understand how health systems get paid.”
Kristi Ebong: “It’s also all about the team. Can they engage across the health system to identify the complexities to really understand the business model? Team is the most opportunity.”
Q2. How can health systems or payers help digital health succeed? Follow up: which stakeholders need early engagement and for what needs?
Christiana DelloRusso: “Having someone on the inside of the health system to help navigate the complexity is very important to success.”
Kristi Ebong: “In general, the cosponsors are legal and technology. Having that combined insight is critical to knowing which stakeholders need to come to the engagement. You must have legal buy-in to help drive commercialization focus, plus technology buy-in to know how it will integrate.”
Christiana DellaRusso: “You’ve seen one health system, you’ve seen one health system. There may be patterns, but legal, infrastructure, culture are all different for every organization.”
Carolyn Jasik: “A lot of digital health companies don’t recruit people with hospital experience. Each health system will tell you that they need a product to be customized to them. You need a smart team on the digital health side of things to really know what’s scalable. Digital health vendors need the maturity to push back and say ‘no, we’re going to do it this way.’”
Q3. How important are pilots to the success of a digital health product? Follow up: What are the common misunderstandings about pilots?
Carolyn Jasik: “You first have to know what the goal of the pilot is; is it a feasibility pilot or a business opportunity pilot? There are different sets of people to work with for each kind, so first know what you’re doing.”
Christiana DelloRusso: “Understand what’s going to be required for scale. Where are the resources and budget going to come from and who are the stakeholders and owners of the budget? Get as much of that figured out upfront—before the pilot—to get a good assessment of success.”
Q4. Which digital health success stories can you share that might provide insight into the differentiators that enable that success?
Christiana DelloRusso: “The companies that are doing well are the ones that are solving a basic need for health systems. InDemand Interpreting is a great example. Their on demand, remote video a-la-cart service is solving a solid need that won’t change over time and they are growing solidly.”
Kristi Ebong: “Well’s messaging application was in our first accelerator program. They have now scaled to 80+ clinics. They solved the pain point of physicians not wanting to talk to or message patients directly — it’s not that they don’t care, but that they are busy.”
Carolyn Jasik: “Voalte. Their team communication system solves an important problem within a hospital. What’s innovative about it is that it puts a device in the hand of every caregiver and gives them the ability to message on the spot.”
Christiana DelloRusso: “In thinking about disrupting healthcare, one thing that helps people get perspective is to understand that change is relentlessly iterative. You need to understand where they need to go, but look at where health systems are right now. The latest and greatest disruption is not likely to be feasible for most hospitals… It all comes down to understanding that healthcare doesn’t get paid to do the right thing.”