What a great two-day conference in Chicago – the MidAmerica Healthcare Venture Forum (MHVF) hosted by MedCity News and Mid-America Healthcare Investors Network.  The combination of angel investors, venture capitalists, healthcare information technology specialists, and biotech and medical-device organizations was truly inspiring. One could sit and hear all the different perspectives on each topic presented.  Some quick takeaway points for all of you innovators/entrepreneurs out there:

  1.  Stop building products and stop talking about solutions. A common theme was to identify the problem and understand how healthcare workflows are set up today to ensure that you bake these existing constraints into your business model and planning. Having the best product that can’t fit within a delivery system or having the solution to a problem no one asked for won’t lead to long-term success.
  2.  Everyone’s getting into accelerators and incubators. How does that affect you and your new business? The short answer is that it all depends on the group you’re talking with and what your expectations are. Not one incubator will make your company – you need to do that. So make sure you walk into the relationship with the appropriate expectations about how they will help you plan, network, and learn about your business. If you don’t need those three functions, then don’t go that route. Thinking that they are a fundraising group is not accurate, so don’t expect that as your main reason for applying to one.
  3.  It’s scary that people helping to run healthcare nationally deem it as misaligned and confusing as we lay people do. Transparency is a huge concern for patients. Not knowing what is being done to us, how we’re being billed, and why insurance will or won’t cover something seem to be problems for every patient, even those who create policy! Innovators need to work on solutions that align the system, create transparency, and give credibility back to the system. Companies coming to market are trying to alleviate some of these issues, while hospitals and insurers only care about ROI over the next 12 months. This misalignment leads to progress being slow and confusion reigning.
  4. Shifting from fee-for-service to fee-for-value is still a long way off. The business models aren’t defined yet, and the players aren’t able to move forward yet, so how does an innovator create around an ecosystem that has no definition? In one word, carefully. We need to build companies today that can create value in the fee-for-service model, but then can help shift the market to fee-for-value. This is not easy, which is why there are so many failures. The driving force behind each of our companies must be to bridge the gap during this time of unbelievable turmoil in the market. Once the gaps are filled, we can focus on building value based on solutions, but that day is not here yet and may take five to 10 years to reach. I remember launching EMRs 16 years ago; we thought we would revolutionize the market and be paperless in five to 10 years – we’re only 60 percent of the way there and it’s been 16 years! Change takes time.

I appreciate the time of Chris Seper and others who hosted the conference this past week. Thanks for those of you reading today, and let me know if I can help with any questions you may have on leveraging the lessons learned for your business.  As always, take care and have a great day.