Published On April 20, 2021Established businesses looking to enter the healthcare IT market shouldn’t make the common mistake of leading with technology.
The global healthcare IT market totaled more than $74 billion last year and is growing at a healthy 10% annually, but businesses that are looking to muscle into the market for electronic health records or clinical information systems will face an uphill climb and a high risk of failure.
The bigger opportunity is to apply technology to areas that don’t lend themselves easily to automation, such as genomic analytics and better understanding adverse drug interactions.
This emerging category of “bio IT” is one where big tech firms haven’t established beachheads and may never even try to do so, according to Shahid Shah, a veteran healthcare technology serial entrepreneur who co-founded Citus Health, a company that is bringing breakthrough technology to home healthcare, and recently launched Medigy, a health sciences innovation marketplace.
“There are a lot of opportunities in cohort-specific and personalized public health education, sharing risk data across patients and populations,” Shah told an Iron Mountain working group on innovation. And in a post-COVID-19 world that will be transformed by telemedicine. Services such as remote and self-diagnostics are still an open field.
A new class of healthcare practitioners is emerging who don’t have professional credentials, ranging from ambulance drivers who may be called upon to administer vaccines to users of smartphone apps that can diagnose jaundice by analyzing a selfie.
Established businesses looking to enter the healthcare IT market shouldn’t make the common mistake of leading with technology. Furthermore, competing on technology is fruitless when hyperscale giants like Amazon and Google will always be able to move faster on that front.
But what those companies don’t have is the domain expertise that can help healthcare companies mine greater value out of data or enable doctors to analyze data harvested remotely from a wearable device.
These therapeutic tools “deal with clinical research, drug development, clinical discovery and actual therapies, which is all biology,” Shah said. Each market on its own is too narrow to interest big technology firms but they collectively spell a big opportunity for companies that can “comprehend all this data, enrich it and draw insights from it,” he said.
For businesses looking to crack the healthcare market, “The most important thing is not your servers, it’s the hospitals and healthcare systems that trust you,” Shah said. “Non-healthcare companies believe that what they’re good at today is what’s going to help them win healthcare. It’s not.” What will win are trust relationships, a solid understanding of the regulatory and legal constraints that are unique to the market and knowledge of each healthcare market segment.
The questions to ask are “how can you open the aperture and do more for them? How do you organize their data? How do you get more from the customers you already have versus finding new customers?” Shah said. Technology should never even enter the picture before patient outcomes and healthcare benefits are clearly articulated.