Origen: Why do digital health startups keep failing?
Digital health products need to appeal not just to individual consumers but to a complicated landscape of stakeholders–from doctors and patients to regulators and insurers–all of whom have a say in whether a new technology is adopted. Products, especially those considered medical devices, may take years of jumping through complex clinical and regulatory hoops before they reach the market, and can’t always easily be iterated once they do.
There’s one catch: The process of deeply understanding and addressing stakeholder needs is painstaking, which is why tech innovators who are used to jumping quickly into product development are often tempted to skip it. As longtime healthcare venture capitalist Rob Coppedge explains, “considerable capital was burned [by digital health startups] without building truly sustainable businesses” because founders “lacked expertise, underappreciated healthcare specific workflows, [and] misunderstood the full healthcare consumer journey.”Arlen Myers, president of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, echoes these concerns, indicating that many digital health startups fail because they “don’t involve end users early and often enough . . . don’t satisfy the needs of multiple stakeholders . . . make products that interfere with physician workflow instead of making it easier . . . [or] launch products that are not clinically validated.”