by George Kramb, CEO of PatientPartner
Being a startup in any industry is a challenging, uphill climb. Forming a startup in the medical industry can be especially hard. Patients become attached to their providers. There are big, established names in the medical field, and building patient trust as a new name may seem insurmountable.
Sparking organic growth for a medical startup involves diligent research on target markets, attention to SEO, and strategic maneuvers with social media to build awareness and engagement. The essential undercurrent of all of this growth is trust.
The Challenge of Growing a Medical Startup
Digital health startups can encounter many roadblocks on the path to scaling their businesses. These include:
Government Regulation: One of the biggest roadblocks for digital health startups is the bevy of government regulations under which medical companies need to work. Learning the ropes and making sure your organization is compliant at all times is a significant part of running your digital health startup
Not Understanding Payments or Insurance: Maybe a startup has a great idea, in theory, but if they can’t get their collective heads around insurance reimbursement (when applicable) or how to get paid, they are doomed to fail.
Staying Within an Echo Chamber: The only way to know if any startup, medical or not, will thrive is to bring the idea to the “world stage” and outside those in the inner circle. An idea needs a real-world application to grow.
Getting the Word Out on Transforming Healthcare
Digital health startups are developed because someone has a novel idea that can change how we approach healthcare here in the U.S. and internationally. Organic growth happens when that idea is spread far and wide and takes hold, leading to further utilization of the product or service. Once the idea is established, the startup can push forward with ways to improve on the original idea and offer more and better services and support to the patients that they serve.
For example, my company PatientPartner initially began as a way for surgery patients to connect to mentors who had experience with their particular procedure. We quickly expanded to include connections to doctors across the country, specialists in joint replacement, weight loss, cosmetic surgery, and women’s health. We continue to add services, support resources, and mentors and physicians to our roster as we grow. We reinforce progression by implementing organic growth best practices, approaches that have successfully engaged patients, and built name recognition.
Organic Growth Best Practices
What are these best practices that best support growth for digital health startups? Given the number of startups entering the playing field these days, one cannot simply rely on a few SEO tricks or a website and expect successful organic growth. An organization should step up its technology considerably to be heard above the noise of thousands of startups clamoring to be noticed.
Organic growth should focus on the following:
Engaging Content: Content matters when trying to scale your startup organically. What you put out there on social media and your website matters in terms of catching the attention of your target market.
Reallocate Funds to Product/Service Development: Stagnation can occur if funds are not reallocated into new products and services. To grow, a startup needs to continue to innovate.
Well-Defined Niche: Make sure your niche in the medical industry is well-defined and well-described for the patient market. If patients don’t understand how you can help them or why they need your product or service, you won’t grow.
Clear Expertise: To create patient trust, which is paramount to growing a digital health startup, you must establish your organization’s medical expertise. In this age of misinformation and “Google research” very often taking the place of expert advice, showing a clear expert platform helps patients have a trusted advisor in which to turn.
While growing a digital health startup organically can be challenging, growth can be achieved through planning, best practices, and always considering why you started in the first place. The world needs your expertise, and patients only stand to benefit from startups continuing to grow and innovate.
George Kramb is the CEO of PatientPartner, a platform that connects pre-surgical patients with people who have already had the same procedure. With a background in healthcare working with medical device companies, he has assisted surgeons through hundreds of operations using medical machinery. He is on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for Consumer Technology, as well as featured in publications such as Entrepreneur and TechTimes.