5 tips for aspiring healthtech founders from a doctor and CEO

In the face of rising care backlogs and staffing shortages, healthcare services urgently need innovative solutions to deliver sustainable transformation and support. As an Accident and Emergency doctor, I witnessed first-hand how poorly implemented, inflexible tech put additional pressure on clinicians and affected the ability to provide the best patient care. 

When my colleague Jing Ouyang and I co-founded Patchwork Health - a workforce solution built to tackle the healthcare staffing crisis - we were determined to build one of those rare but invaluable products that truly transformed healthcare provision.  

Pivoting from medic to founder further highlighted the unique complexities we knew existed in healthtech innovation. Contending with legacy infrastructure, siloed systems and necessarily rigorous regulations is a part of daily life. Every day provided another chance to learn more about successful innovation in the healthcare sector. 

Here are five important lessons that have helped me beyond measure on my journey as founder; I hope they help others too. 

Take special notice of nuance

To deliver a solution that successfully improves outcomes for clinicians and patients, the first step is to truly understand the pain points you’re trying to solve. Working in the NHS reinforced the fact that nothing can be assumed or taken for granted. Every healthcare organisation, service and team of course works differently. Variation in staffing structures, administrative systems and methods of care delivery means an extensive variety of nuanced challenges and needs exists. 

It’s important to meet regularly with the end users your solution is being built to support, and discuss their unique processes and challenges. Identifying where the roots of these specific challenges lie will help you tailor your solution to address these nuances and ensure it successfully optimises genuine outcomes. At Patchwork, we work to achieve this by aligning our own goals with those of our partner organisations, regularly reviewing user feedback and proactively adapting our solutions as our partners’ needs evolve.

Make people your priority

People are the beating heart of healthcare delivery, and they belong at the centre of healthtech, too. By building every stage of your solution development around the patients and clinicians it is destined to support, you can ensure that your technology translates into real impact for users.

At Patchwork, we mould our solution to real peoples’ needs rather than expecting them to fit their lives around the systems they work with. A big part of this involves making user experience a central focus of product design. This helps us to ensure that our solution works to make users' lives easier, and doesn't create additional blockers or increase their already heavy workload.  

Maintain clear and open communication

There is no successful innovation in healthcare without strong and consistent communication. Within your team, create open channels through which ideas, concerns and feedback can be regularly and effectively shared. This will not only ensure that everybody is aligned and working towards the same goals, but will help identify areas for further attention.

With your clients, communication is just as key. Make it easy for clients to share feedback, and provide regular updates to ensure that your solution is evolving in line with their changing needs. Things move especially quickly in healthcare, so it's undoubtedly crucial to listen to your clients and work together to ensure your solution reflects these changes. 

Leverage the power of data

For wide-scale change to happen in healthcare, clear, accurate data is integral. Having access to key data insights helps users more effectively identify and direct improvements. By providing your end users with safe, secure access to the data your solution produces, you can provide a level of oversight which enables them to review and refine processes and optimise all outcomes.

We support our partners to view and harness key data points through our Patchwork Insights platform. Users can monitor key metrics and more intuitively adapt and grow their services in line with demand.

Build long-term partnerships with your customers

And finally, building strong, long-term partnerships with your clients is an absolute must. Healthcare teams are under intense pressure and are facing increasing demands on their time; so getting to grips with complex new systems is understandably often the last thing they want to do. As a technology partner, it’s your responsibility to provide ongoing support to your end users, every step of the way.