Digital healthcare startups can integrate clinical expertise into business models – here’s how •

Early indications to show funding for digital healthcare startups has fallen so much in the fourth quarter of 2022 that they are close to 2019 levels.

But the dollar amounts don’t tell the whole story. How you grow as a digital healthcare company is just as important as in the event that you grow all the way.

A company built for the long term should have clinical experts as part of its leadership to ensure care is always based on the patient’s medical needs and to maintain quality control.

Here’s a framework for digital health startups to consider:

Bring clinicians into senior leadership

The best case scenario for a digital healthcare startup is to bring on a clinician as a co-founder.

I speak from experience. My co-founder is a triple board certified psychiatrist who brings clinical expertise to everything she does. From evaluating product roadmap decisions with our technology department to strategy discussions at board meetings and managing our entire clinical team, her contributions are vital to the health and direction of the company.

Allocating resources and space to full-time caregivers allows them to focus more on patient care – the reason they got into medicine.

Outside of the C-suite, hiring clinicians as senior leaders with responsibilities outside of clinical practice is invaluable. The key is making sure clinicians know they will be reporting to another clinician, not a non-clinical supervisor.

Non-clinical leaders, including founders and non-clinical C-suite executives, must practice what they preach. They should consistently involve their clinical partners in business discussions, even if they have no clear clinical impact.

The main advantages of this approach are:

  • The clinical and non-clinical collaboration has been more active from the start.
  • Other team members and clinical staff will see and respect the recording.
  • Doctors may discover something that has an indirect but significant clinical impact.

In addition to hiring clinicians internally, startups should consider inviting clinicians to join their board of directors. Their presence on the board helps a company become an ethical and sustainable medical practice focused on helping patients rather than a technology company operating at the expense of patients.

This commitment to patient outcomes is a differentiator and should be reflected at every level of work of a digital health startup.

Celebrate the commitment of providers

Allocating resources and space to full-time caregivers allows them to focus more on patient care – the reason they got into medicine.


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