Providers can make the difference in successful innovation
By KELLI MURRAY, MedSpeaks
When we started the Health Innovators community in Orlando back in the Fall of 2014, we did so because we wanted to find ways for healthcare's problem owners (providers) and problem solvers (entrepreneurs) to talk about ways to help each other. After convening 1,700 Florida-based entrepreneurs, hospital leaders, physicians, and other healthcare professionals at over 30 community events since our launch, here's what we've learned:
- Entrepreneurs are met with many barriers to entry including access to experts to help validate and expand their understanding of problems and the viability and scalability of their solutions.
- Entrepreneurs serve multiple roles; often being the lead ideator, fundraiser, technologist, marketer, salesperson, product manager, accountant, and more.
- Entrepreneurs have limited funds and resources in which to validate needs and build, market, and sell their products and services. Many use their own funds, obtain grants, and/or raise angel investment. They must be strategic stewards of how this funding is spent as runways are often short.
- Entrepreneurs are generally adaptable and have agility to quickly build solutions for specific problems; particularly those that involve technology.
- Entrepreneurs are risk-takers and willing to put their personal livelihood and savings on the line (and that of their friends, family, and investors) in the pursuit of something bigger than themselves.
- Entrepreneurs tend to be creative, solution-centric, and eager to make an impact. More often than not, their solutions are the result of personal experience and a passion to improve upon that experience for others.
As physicians and stakeholders in improving the cost, quality, and experience of care delivery, you play a unique role in the health innovation process. Your perspectives, knowledge, and workflows are a vital lens into a world that entrepreneurs and their teams all too often lack a view of. What happens instead is that young companies rely on the feedback of a handful of people rather than the collective voice of many.
Healthcare, of course, has more than its share of very complex questions. How can we reduce costs and increase value, improve patients' experiences and outcomes, speed the translation of research into therapies and cures, make healthcare something that people can have access to here in the United States, and, ultimately, around the world? If we widen the boundaries of inquiry to address questions of this sort, we discover the importance of collaborations and partnerships across the industry and across the related academic fields. In spite of all the dramatic enhancements in digital connectivity and communication, there is something uniquely powerful and generative about bringing thinkers and doers together to interact in person....Drew Gilpin Faust, President, Harvard University
You may think that you don't know where to start, I don't have the time, and if I did have the time, what companies need my expertise, who should I align myself with, and what's in it for me? Fortunately, you have several options - each with its own unique advantages.
- Pilot: allow entrepreneurs to work in a test environment. Being able to start small and act fast can result in rapid learnings and value.
- Job Shadowing: observational data is extremely valuable to help young companies understand daily activities and challenges. Have them sign NDA and HIPPA forms.
- Speak, Write: get involved in knowledge-based events and publications to share your perspectives with an audience that's eager to learn.
- Mentor, Advise: allocate a couple hours per month to volunteer to work with aspiring entrepreneurs and inventors at universities, incubators, and accelerator programs.
- Consult: get compensated for your time and expertise either in honorarium, charitable donation, cash, or even stock options.
- Partner: cross-collaborate on ideas, inventions and assets through licensing, joint ventures, and the like.
- Buy Local: if you're shopping for solutions, encourage economic growth by looking locally first. You'll be delighted by what you find.
- Invest: join Florida Angel Nexus to hear about opportunities for as little as $15k investment per deal
We are beyond believing that there is one big idea that will solve the challenges of access, equity, efficiency, experience, quality and cost. It's why the most intriguing solutions and ideas are those that bring themes of shared knowledge and collaboration.
It's why entrepreneurship needs mentors like you.
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