To tech companies entering healthcare: proceed with caution... please

To tech companies entering healthcare: proceed with caution... please

November 13, 2018
Health IT
• Talent drain. If the tech giant actually hires subject matter experts, those people are naturally recruited from established healthcare companies. This exodus of talent can severely halt meaningful innovation that has a better chance of being launched in the market. Admittedly, it’s healthy for all companies to compete for top talent, but it can be a very one-sided competition when reality has to square off against fantasy.
• Falling tide. Just as rising tides lift all boats, falling tides strand them just as quickly. Tech companies absolutely love to deploy platforms where they build the core tech stack then entice other developers to launch applications on the new platform. Unfortunately, when these platforms fail (and they often do), they leave a host of stranded applications, damaging developers and users alike.

Being a catalyst for innovation
Does this mean tech giants should stay away from healthcare and leave the spoils to the traditional, often slow-moving players that currently occupy the space? Absolutely not. Innovation and ideas can literally come from anywhere and anyone. Likewise, competition is often the catalyst for breakthrough inventions and innovations. The most persistent problems in healthcare desperately need cross-industry expertise to introduce novel solutions and infuse fresh thinking.

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So how should tech companies proceed?
• Be realistic. No matter how much time and money you think it will cost, the true costs and time commitment are going to be greater. Admit this to yourself, shareholders and potential customers. If the solution was quick and easy, some other company would have done it long ago.
• Stay focused. Start with something (anything) that is not mission critical to someone’s survival. Slow behemoths that they are, traditional healthcare companies have earned their seat at the table through decades of hard work, massive investments and painful failures. It’s much harder than it looks from the outside.
• Persevere. When the ROI does not materialize after the first year, don’t throw in the towel. Healthcare is hard. If you’re not willing to sign up for the long haul, don’t sign up at all.
• Partner then purchase. If you snap up companies that are still in their formative stages and then shutter your entire healthcare effort a year later, these companies and their innovations usually get crushed in the process. Instead, first try partnering with these early ventures as you get your feet wet in the space. You can always buy them later.

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