What Payers and Other Stakeholders Look For in a Healthcare Startup
Hear what US payers and other key stakeholders look for when connecting with health startups, and where they believe entrepreneurs should focus their attention.
Mahek Shah, MD, Project Director & Senior Researcher, Harvard Business School
Aaron Feierstein, Sr. Corporate Development Advisor, Healthworx, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
Zain Ismail, Principal Transformation Consultant, Strategic Support Services, Henry Ford Health System
Transcript with timestamps (click here)
What do you look for when connecting with startups? Mahek Shaw, MD, Project Director & Senior Researcher, Harvard Business School [00:10]
When connecting with innovators and really thinking about what I’m looking for, for helping entrepreneurs succeed, I think it’s really important to understand where is healthcare delivery today. And that’s important in understanding the workflows that go on in hospital, how care looks like from when your patient begins their journey, interacts with that and engages with the healthcare system. But then what happens afterwards, if they leave the hospital, or they leave a healthcare experience.
So things I look for is an understanding of what that care model looks like, but also where it’s going. I think it’s important to understand where healthcare is moving towards—and that is one of value.
Aaron Feierstein, Sr. Corporate Development Advisor, Healthworx, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield [00:50]
There’s a few things that we look for when connecting with innovators in the startup space. One of the main things we’re looking for is that there’s a product–market fit with the solution and they’ve really developed out their business model strategy, as well as their reimbursement strategy. A lot of the innovators we work with, we help to develop that reimbursement strategy as well. But we want them to have given it some thought and kind of understand the dynamics of the marketplace.
And then another thing we look at when connecting with innovators is the team and making sure that there’s a mix between business and clinical. We don’t want a team that’s heavily weighted toward one or the other, but a mix who understands the landscape and the market, as well as understanding how this solution fits into the clinical workflow.
What are your priorities in helping startups better understand what they need to innovate toward? Zain Ismail, Principal Transformation Consultant, Strategic Support Services, Henry Ford Health System [01:40]
The top priorities that we’re working on to help innovators understand better what we want from them first, really, is to get our own house in order. So at Henry Ford, we’ve established a consumer-facing digital innovation steering committee, which basically is looking at really understanding what are the key value propositions that we need from innovators before we procure them. So that’s one.
The second is we’ve been working for about five years now to establish our own Innovation Institute, which works internally to commercialize technology, but also externally to pull people in. And that is our function that will allow early-stage innovators to work directly with us in sort-of co-development opportunities.
And then finally, we’re working to get the word out through some of the networks that we’re a part of, inclusive of Detroit–Windsor med-health innovation cluster, where we’re working with other community partners to be part of the pipeline in that community for digital health innovators in Southeast Michigan and southwestern Ontario.
Tell us about your strategic priorities. Where should startups focus their attention? Aaron Feierstein [02:41]
There’s three key themes that Healthworx looks at when looking at potential investment. The first theme is “focus on the whole person.” So that’s looking at our top areas of spend. Social determinants of health is big, as well as looking at advanced analytics and how we can use data. We’re looking to break the pharmacy cost curve. So anything we can do around medication adherence or adding clinical programs to improve quality or reduce costs for our members.
And then consumer engagement or experience is important as well. So that’s using data again, looking at the whole person, creating a full profile, and then being able to use that data to engage with the member, whether that’s using clinical programs or other solutions to be able to better engage with the members.