Get yourself a “champion” or advocate — that was a key takeaway for health tech entrepreneurs at the first day of the MedTechTX 2016 Summit in Austin.
The Summit’s goal is to arm health tech entrepreneurs with some best practices when seeking buy in from key stakeholders and decision makers.
I’m blogging on behalf of Spectrum – the Small Business Development Center program focused on the commercialization and the growth of start-up and mid-stage technology companies – and the Austin Technology Council (ATC).
Building Clinical Champions: Key Takeaways
Here is a noteworthy statistic: The survival rate of a health tech startup after four years is 56 percent. That’s why finding a champion for your health tech solution is so important.
Keynote Speaker: Vonda Wright
MedTechTX 2016 keynote speaker Vonda Wright, MD, MS, Orthopaedic Surgeon at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine stressed that point. Dr. Wright offered some advice on getting the right champion on board.
A champion can be an Attending, a Nurse/PA, a Fellow, or Resident. Regardless of her or his position, the best champions are courageous, great learners, outside the box thinkers, indefatigable, great communicators, trusted by peers and trained actual MDs who know the ropes.
When making your pitch to a potential advocate on board, focus more on solving a real evidence based problem and less on the gadget, procedure or process. Be able to address its scope, how well it will integrate, and the cost of conversion. Don’t get stuck on the wow factor. Demonstrate its value. And make them feel valued.
Don’t leave voicemails! That was a takeaway from Dr. Frank Mazza, chief medical officer at Quantros. Physicians usually don’t have the time to get back to you. When he worked at Seton, he was “deluged” with entrepreneurs who wanted to change the world.
“Each night I would listen to messages on my phone from entrepreneurs who wanted to discuss a solution that would ‘Rock my world.’ ” – He rarely returned these voicemails; Not because he was arrogant; he was too busy and often didn’t have time for even the best pitches.
His advice: get champions whom your prospects know and trust. But even a champion doesn’t guarantee a seat at the table. Your solution needs to fit within the existing IT infrastructure. IT departments are overwhelmed. Sometimes the best solutions are not selected if they can’t be integrated seamlessly.
Dr. Jeff Bullard, CEO of Vault, suggests entrepreneurs lead with the Why and then the What and the How. When speaking with a clinician you have 30 seconds to make an impression. Do your homework, and be prepared to discuss upfront dollars and long term solutions.
Dr. Thomas Kim, chief medical officer at Med2You, didn’t mince worlds. Doctors can be challenging and self focused. Understand that most doctors don’t speak the language of technology and business. Bring your solution down to a human level. Feel their pain.
That means being informed. For example, take reimbursements; they are dramatically impacting the practice of medicine . But when Dr Kim asked the audience, “How many of you understand reimbursements?” Few raised their hands. The more you understand the needs of a physician, the better your chances for success.