Healthcare is a hot niche. And healthcare tech is even hotter. Why? Because the healthcare industry still lags behind others in using technology for many of its functions. If you think about venturing into healthtech, consider the following points first.
What Are the Trends?
Industry-wide, tech trends that will continue to emerge through 2016 and into 2017 are as follows:
- While the hype around fitness wearables has largely subsided, there will still be a huge market for condition-specific wearables – devices that will transmit data to both patients and to healthcare professionals. Diabetes and high blood pressure management devices are already on the market, but those for addiction, pain management, and infant monitoring are still in early stages. There is room here.
- EHR (electronic health records) still has great growth potential. Patients who monitor their own conditions at home must have a platform to transmit data to their physicians; out-of-hospital environmental conditions may need to be monitored, and this data must be collected sometimes around the clock. Not only is software needed for these activities, but there will be room for data-collection software companies that can sift through the data and reduce the amount that actually moves on to doctors.
- While it may seem a bit “Big Brotherish,” the universal access to full patient records will allow healthcare professionals from anywhere in the world to have a complete picture of a patient’s history.
- Better systems that streamline reimbursements from payers will continue to be in demand
- Generalized software solutions for healthcare facilities that will monitor such things as compliance, safety, and temperature control for medicine storage will free up personnel for patient care rather than manually monitoring these conditions. eCMS software, for example, provides noise level monitoring in hospitals and alerts personnel when the levels are reaching a tipping point that may impact patient comfort and recovery.
- Analytics is big. Solid data-driven analytics can help hospitals and other medical facilities can inform improvements in both patient care and in operations. Improving outcomes through the use of analytics is the subject of an annual Healthcare Analytics Summit in the fall of each year, and those thinking about an analytics startup would do well to attend.
What Are the Regulations/Constraints?
The entire healthcare industry is subject to HIPAA standards, FDA regulations, ISO standards, and a host of other smaller federal, state, and local “hoops” to jump through. These make health care providers a bit skittish about adopting new technology when it is web-based (cybersecurity issues) or when it purports to provide solutions to such things as compliance and safety. Your solutions must have a strong value proposition – so strong that it cannot be resisted.
What Is Your Competition?
This is a consideration for any startup and the healthcare niche is no different. Not much needs to be said about this. If you are serious about a startup, you know you have to do the research, not just on the trends mentioned above but who the “players” are.
About That Funding
Obviously you will need funding at some point. VC funding is not out of the question in some sectors, particularly devices and diagnostic tools, but software solutions will need to be tested a bit. And investors are much more prone to listen to someone who has taken the time to test his/her idea before asking. But, since the SEC now allows equity crowdfunding, this may be an option to look into now. It is going to gain popularity.
Remember, as you plan your entire startup process, that tech startups of any kind will require client education. This can be a lengthy process and it must be built into your costs and thus the cost to your client. Having the right team members to deliver that instruction is critical.