Event Recap: EvergreenHealth Medical Center Reverse Pitch Day® Discussion Panel

On Oct. 27, the Cambia Grove hosted Anchor Partner EvergreenHealth’s second Reverse Pitch Day®. EvergreenHealth pitched two problem statements, focused on patient access to care and patient engagement with the health system, followed by a panel discussion on startup/enterprise collaboration moderated by Elevar COO Casey Le Jeune.

Panelists included:

• Steve Fox - Vice President, Zaffre Investments

• Jack Peters - Manager IT Applications, EvergreenHealth 

Le Jeune opened the discussion with the assertion that, for startups, when it comes to working with enterprises there is an even harder and longer journey after the sale: the implementation of technology solutions into the customer’s very complex organization and environment. The panelists gave advice on how to successfully implement a solution into a health care enterprise. They specifically focused on what startups should expect from the collaboration and how to best navigate the procurement, contracting, and implementation processes.

Edited highlights of the panel are available below: 

Collaboration with an enterprise can be transformative for a startup. Many health care enterprises are looking for new and emerging startups to work with, in order to drive innovation and inject more “outside of the box” thinking into their organizational culture.

Both Fox and Peters said that to make these partnerships work, startups must bring energy and expertise. “Startups are not poisoned by corporate-enterprise thinking. They should harness and leverage that,” Fox said.

“The enterprise moves slowly, while startups move really fast,” Fox said. Even if there is a culture of innovation, the enterprise cannot function at the same speed level as a startup does, so a paid pilot does not come without inherent challenges. There are benefits in the fact that entrepreneurs and startups are closer to the problems but as Fox pointed out, “sometimes they underestimate the problems in our [health care] space.”

However, a partnership with an enterprise can “teach startups what it’s like to get in the finance and delivery system side, and partner with the right providers,” Fox added.

While doctors and patients have grown accustomed to more consumer-centric experiences as interactions with technologies have increased, interactions with the health care system are not there yet. “The goal is to have that improved,” Peters said. The change may me slow or incremental but there are possibilities for startups to fill in the gaps through innovative and cost-effective solutions.

In proposing and implementing solutions, a key risk is becoming discouraged by “the enterprise’s monolithic pace of change,” Fox said. “Hanging on tightly to ideas and the inability to adapt is a problem in enterprise’s culture.”

Peters also pointed to the fact that, as a startup, it is easy to lose faith. In the startup world, there is rapid deployment of new features but without a strong internal enterprise advocate to massage some of the paint points that will surely arise, the implementation process can be stymied. Although counterintuitive in an entrepreneurial space, Peters explained that “you have to be careful about change, [because] it’s important to manage its effect.”  

Another challenge Peters discussed based on his experience with Overl.ai, the startup that earned a paid pilot through EvergreenHealth’s first Reverse Pitch Day®, was quality control. “There is zero room for error [while] integration is challenging because startups need to be ready to possibly have to go back in time, technology-wise.”

Each enterprise is different and working with them comes with different challenges. Fox said startups should work to learn and leverage what they have experienced with each enterprise. They need to build relationships, and be adaptable and clear about the problem they are going to solve. For instance, wanting to be granular could be an asset but startups need to be able to create scalable solutions.

Both Fox and Peters provided valuable advice on how to foster mutually beneficial startup/enterprise long-term relationships. In the end their advice to stay “flexible but focused” stood out.

Audience Q&A

During Q&A, an attendee brought up how challenging it can be for startups to be patient for 12-18 months in the face of regular business and technological changes’ rapid movement.

“Health care will not change dramatically,” Fox said. “Our models will not change overnight. You need to have sustainability to be able to hang in there long enough for the business development cycle to catch on. It takes time to get the entire management team on board. So, are we proving a concept or are we proving something to scale? Your company needs to be able to withstand ebbs and flows.”

A recap—including video—of EvergreenHealth’s problem statements from Oct. 27 is available here.

Applications to pilot with EvergreenHealth are due Nov. 17. Anyone can submit an application, regardless of geography. The Elevar Labs application page can be found here.

 

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