Show is More Important than Tell in HIT


How many times have you heard a company (or yourself) say, “If only someone who understood the industry could hear my pitch, we would definitely get the funding/resources/notoriety/infamy we need.” Last week, during the 6th Annual Healthcare Executives Summer Social, 20 companies ranging from larval-stage concepts to fully-formed companies, had the opportunity to present to an ocean of healthcare thought leaders and corporate executives.

This was a “pitch” event where start-up and early stage companies pitch healthcare executives, venture capitalists, angel investors, etc. their business concepts (as they relate to life sciences and medical devices). The program consisted of “lighting pitches” where companies were given one minute (a soft “one minute”) and one slide to present their plan for improving/disrupting/changing the healthcare industry.

The keynote was presented by Carl Berke, PhD, partner for the Partners Healthcare Innovation Fund. Berke’s fund started with 35M in 2008 and has since grown to 150M.  The Innovation Fund only invests in IP born out of Partners Healthcare, meaning they work exclusively with people or groups already working within the Partners network. Berke, who started as bench scientist for Kodak, has a PhD in Chemistry and is also co-founder of the Mass Medical Angels (MA2), a group dedicated to bringing “innovative ideas into the clinic” working with formative-stage companies who have key IP assets, a business plan and a management team. The group provides seed capital funding between 200-700K.

Berke’s keynote focused on four things companies should do before seeking funding. But this is not a post only for those seeking funding; all teams (account executives, managers, sales reps, physicians, technicians, etc.) can benefit from these pearls of wisdom.

  1. Teams and Plans – It is never about the product. It is always about the team behind it, and mostly importantly, how well that team has thought through all aspects and contingencies of the proposal. Teams must be flexible and responsive to constructive feedback. Above all else, “know what you don’t know” and recruit strong.
  2. Your High School English Teacher was (mostly) Right—Forget about writing a complete “narrative” for your business plan. Stop telling people what you are going to do; show them. Present just the right amount of information at the right time for your audience to follow, stay interested and (most importantly) want more. Forget about the slides – they are (at best) a leave behind. Show your results.
  3. So what?—Are you working on solving a “known” market problem? Is there overwhelming independent evidence that professionals need a different medical device/electronic record/population health management/technology platform to make their jobs, or outcomes, better? Always be able to answer the question – “who benefits from this?” (HINT: the answer is NOT “the entire healthcare value chain”).
  4. Hospital CIOs don’t need another App—Healthcare technology (HIT) lags behind most others like a sad, lost puppy. Not all hope is lost; there is a major opportunity to create technologies and platforms that are truly interoperable, that can show customer traction and demonstrate tangible results. Don’t create something just to create it, build to solve.

The next time you think you have the best idea ever, stop and ask yourself to answer the above—the specifics might not be relevant to your industry, but the intent of questions should just about always ring true.