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  • Writer's pictureShannon Lantzy

Why is helping healthcare so hard?

The healthcare industry is plagued by problems that other industries have already solved. When solution providers try to help, they're often rebuffed. Why is helping healthcare so hard?


Healthcare companies and hospital systems are plagued by ransomware, shortages, bureaucracy, and more. There are solutions for these problems that work in other industries. But healthcare leaders (e.g., executives in medtech, pharma, hospital systems) are often very skeptical and slow to adopt solutions that the rest of the world has seemingly adopted for years.


I once brought an experienced, extremely technically adept cybersecurity executive to meet a leader at the FDA. The FDA was working on cybersecurity issues, and the executive had successfully solved similar problems with other federal clients. I was certain that the connection would be valuable for both sides. Once the meeting started, I realized they didn't speak the same language, and the exec made a few errors that lost all credibility. The FDA leader left the meeting frustrated, having wasted her time, and the cyber exec was pretty surprised (he is accustomed to being hailed as a hero!).


I have seen this repeatedly across healthcare organizations, both private and public. (And it has happened to me!) A solution provider reaches out to help, and they get ignored or rebuffed. Prospective healthcare customers are intolerant of generalized marketing or sales techniques. They have a skeptical approach to anyone from the outside offering to help. For good reason.


The healthcare industry is highly regulated, the stakes are human lives, and the price pressure is significant. New solution providers (be it services, products, Saas) who claim to have a solution that works for healthcare often have no proof that the solution will work in healthcare. Since other industries do not have similar constraints, evidence that a solution works in those other industries is unhelpful to the skeptical healthcare buyer.


So, we have a chicken-and-egg problem: healthcare won't adopt without evidence that the solution works in healthcare. The solution provider can't create that evidence unless healthcare adopts it. Which comes first?


Here are four ways to overcome the skepticism:

  1. Be authentic; only make claims when you have evidence to back them up: Instead of "Our solution can solve your problems" say, "We have a solution that works well for clients in other industries. We think that you could get a lot of the same benefits."

  2. Educate and give gifts of relevant insight: Instead of "Do you have some time to talk about our solution," which offers no value and no reason for them to respond, say "We know that Ethylene Oxide, product cybersecurity, and medical product shortages are extremely burdensome issues in healthcare, especially for hospitals. Here are some solutions in other industries." [Point to great free resources.]

  3. Find an innovation partner, and serve them powerfully: Healthcare is different. Approach healthcare buyers with an offer of partnership, rather than a solution provision. Instead of "We want to give you our solution" try "We want to work with you to make our solution powerful for your use case, specifically.

  4. Act like a startup: Instead of applying enterprise sales tactics, which will fail, act like a startup founder. You don't need the revenue from a first healthcare buyer, you need investment of their resources (money, time, energy), so you can doggedly tune your product to their use case.


~Shannon, the Optimistic Optimizer

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