Matching Clinical Champions to Your HIT Product Lifecycle

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Your HIT Product Lifecycle Will Determine the Right Clinical Champion

HIT Product LifecycleIf you’re a digital health startup, you face many tough decisions in your HIT product lifecycle. The path from raw idea to successful market solution poses many challenges.

Physicians serving as your clinical champion can advance the ball, but not all physicians bring the same skills to the game, and your needs will change as your company evolves. Therefore it is critical to match a clinical champion with where you are in your HIT product lifecycle.

Shameer Soni identifies three stages in a startup’s HIT product lifecycle where clinical champions can help shape your startup’s direction and success. They are:

  1. Advisors
  2. Implementation Partners
  3. Influencers

Shameer is a partner at The Patel Law Group in Dallas. Shameer has worked on over 50 rounds of funding for clients and currently represents startups nationwide.  He has worked with startups and venture capital funds from formation, through various stages of investment and at exit.

All three stages of the startup lifecycle are important in their own way.  Without a product, you don’t need an implementation partner, and without an implementation partner, it is difficult to lay the groundwork to influence customer purchase decisions.

HIT Product Lifecycle Process


Shameer: In the advisor stage, you’re asking whether a product needs to pivot and whether it can make an evolutionary pivot to fulfill a market need. At this point, you are leaning pretty heavily on advisors if you are not a healthcare savvy entrepreneur, since they know your audience better than you do.

With an advisor in the early stages, you need someone with an open mind; you don’t need an ultra-specialist. What is most important is someone who is creative because he or she is helping you solve a problem. An ultra-specialist doesn’t necessarily make a good advisor.

Part of the goal of early ideation is how to solve a problem, not how you raise or earn a ton of cash. The advisor is typically a creative expert with industry experience. Their focus is not your final product or platform; it is the idea that needs to evolve into a sustainable business.

An example: For an EMR product, you probably want someone with his or her own clinic. Hospitalists generally don’t have to manage operations on their own.

In sum, your advisor provides polish and direction after you have had your a-ha moment.

Implementation Partners

Shameer: Your implementation partner comes in the next stage of the product lifecycle. This is where the rubber hits the road. It’s all theoretical and obtuse until you really put butts in seats and use your product.  

In the implementation stage, clinical champions need more industry specialization and expertise. You want physicians that are in that space; they should have used similar products (if they exist) to be able to provide comparative testing and point out opportunities.

In parallel you want to have someone to help you with your initial sales and initial product development.

This is where your implementation partner becomes so critical in terms of understanding how the product is used, how the product interacts with your users, and what the pain points and value drivers are.

You want your implementation partners field testing your product and hopefully evangelizing. It doesn’t make sense to have an implementation partner if they are not using your product. I wouldn’t be comfortable engaging someone to talk up my product who hasn’t used it. It makes the company look weak if your partner is merely a hired gun. Experience also makes them better sales people.

This stage is really important in healthcare because it involves outcomes — the ability to make a product or solution usable and have a tangible effect on people’s lives.


Shameer: In the third phase, you have a product. It’s been through a number iterations to the point that it is robust. Now I have figure out how to sell it. That’s where influencers come in. Influencers are people that are able to say “If I like it then everyone else is going to like it.”

In the healthcare context, your target customers have grown up reading peer review journals. They’ve read what others have done and base decisions on results other people have obtained. When you’re looking to accelerate that sales cycle, you need influencers because they are your peer review. ‘Hey we used it, and I helped build it. We think it’s awesome therefore you should use it because you will have the same experience.’ There is so much credibility there. 

Access to a network of influencers often comes from your network of advisors and implementation partners. Influencers are typically brought into a company by the recommendation of advisors and implementation partners. A company should also look to relevant journals for experts in the space. They come in with credibility, and you should should if you can get them on board.

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