Partnerships between established healthcare companies and start-ups became an important channel for innovation. Nevertheless, most of the incumbents are facing difficulties in collaborating with companies which are much smaller in size and more agile, offering a solution/product that could potentially transform their business. Accelerator or incubator programs have been the most prominent standardized approaches to link start-ups with traditional healthcare players in the recent years. However, most programs are too broad as to which solution they target and do not provide support for the integration.

Our approach supports pharma, health insurance, and med-tech companies to drive digital innovation by building ecosystems of 3rd party solutions that are integrated into their core business. The approach consists of five phases:

1st Phase: Create operational readiness for partnering with digital health innovators.

Most healthcare companies have established an innovation manager but lack clear processes and responsibilities for the integration of a digital 3rd party project from initial kick-off until commercial launch. Too often projects are stuck in the ideation or pilot phase because no responsibilities are set for integration into the commercial offering of the company. The operational readiness check aims at identifying these gaps. We then jointly define the operational model that allows the healthcare company to efficiently partner with a start-up.

2nd Phase: Innovation target area selection and solution screening.

Most important within this phase is identifying the area the company can benefit most from currently available digital health solutions in the market. During this phase, briefings are used to screen the market and invite best-in-class innovators to participate in a “Get to know” meeting.

3rd Phase: Definition of partner model.

Partnerships between incumbents and start-ups should be designed around trust and flexibility. Normal vendor contracts are often too rigid; these contracts attempt to regulate future events that don’t lend themselves well to regulation. This is because the nature of innovation means venturing into unknown and unpredicted areas. However, starting a partnership without a 3-5 year business plan is also something with which healthcare companies do not feel comfortable.

4th Phase: Piloting and establishing a progress monitoring.

The need for piloting innovations is undisputed in the industry but often pilots begin with a big kick-off and then the organization gradually loses interest. Monitoring and communication during the pilot phase is essential to keep up the momentum and prepare the organization for the commercial launch.

5th Phase: Commercial and organizational integration.

The process of integrating a partner solution into the core business starts with writing innovation briefings. Too often sponsors from the implementing organizational units are not involved during this innovation process, causing delays during implementation. While this might be acceptable for a traditional healthcare company, it is problematic for a start-up.

We help healthcare companies identify and integrate digital health solutions into their service offerings throughout all phases. Our consultants understand both sides, the corporate and the start-up side, allowing them to manage interest of all parties involved.



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