3 Things to Know Before You Launch a Healthcare Startup

It’s 2015, and innovation is rampant in nearly every industry. Even mattresses are being reimagined, and the implications are important: We’re finally taking a second look at the things we’d become accustomed to in the past.

The healthcare industry is full of exciting new changes and disruptive startups that ask (and answer) the question: Isn’t there a better way to do this?

If you’re considering launching an innovative company in the healthcare space, there are some important, industry-specific things to consider. Here’s what you should know about founding a disruptive healthcare startup.

1. The regulations are serious and unavoidable.

Unlike many industries, healthcare is heavily regulated to protect patient privacy, provider care, and patient health. That spells difficulty for many startups, as the process of knowing, navigating, and abiding by these regulations is a huge task in and of itself.

You’ll find yourself abiding by, and adapting to, the rules of the Food and Drug Administration, the Affordable Healthcare Act, HIPAA, and more. Are you dedicated enough to ensure your company doesn’t inadvertently break the rules? If so, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts:

“If you know how to work through that regulatory process, it’s not that difficult. It can be a competitive advantage,” says Unity Stoakes, co-founder of healthcare startup accelerator Startup Health.

2. You can’t beat them, so you’ll have to join them.

The disruptive entrepreneur’s mindset is particularly valuable in the healthcare sector, but also potentially detrimental to a fledgling startup.

Breaking into the healthcare industry isn’t the same as starting a tech company--there are many established companies and organizations already operating in the sector, and as an entrepreneur, you’ll need to work with them, not against them. That’s tough to grasp for many founders.

Healthcare startups that know how to work with the system are innovating the health system as we know it, disrupting the way things have been done and imagining the way they could be. For example, the ever-expanding health insurance startup Oscar, backed by Google Capital, mixed things up by offering unlimited telehealth visits and fitness incentives to their customers. Changes like this could be the future of healthcare.

If you want to find success in the healthcare industry, you’ll find yourself working with the corporate and government big guys--hospitals, insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and regulators. That’s just part of the game in this industry. No startup is an island!

3. Mobile tech rules.

As we play around with existing technologies, we’re sometimes struck with serendipitous inspiration on applying those technologies to healthcare and fitness. That’s how many great healthcare startups are born!

According to Eyal Geffen, the managing partner of Sky Ventures Group, we’re desperate for connection in our healthcare. A society that has become accustomed to instantaneous communication and easy access to information naturally craves these things in their healthcare experiences, and that’s why mobile healthcare tech is leading the industry.

A study from Rock Health showed that 80% of consumers have adopted at least one digital health technology, and that number is only continuing to rise. New uses of existing technologies, like secure text messaging, have made it possible to streamline health communication while protecting patient privacy.

Yes, it’s tough out there for an innovative healthcare startup, but the ground is fertile, the audience is receptive, and the rewards are immense. Familiarize yourself with the regulations you’ll need to abide by, accept that you’ll be partnering with the Big Guys in order to get anything done, and know that mobile technology is the sweet spot in this space.

If this doesn’t make your knees quake, you’re probably well-suited to enter the healthcare industry. Suit up and disrupt!