Top 7 Tips for Choosing the Right Digital Health Partner

Advisory & Consulting Digital Health Entrepreneurship
Top 7 Tips for Choosing the Right Digital Health Partner

Most of us in the industry understand that there’s a gap between technology and medicine — a variety of programming languages, unclear expectations, interoperability challenges, and misconceptions about the role of IT in healthcare. Working with an effective healthtech partner helps bridge that gap.

Top-notch healthtech organizations have the skills, innovative ideas, and industry expertise to help you achieve your business goals. However, finding the right partner to align your company with can be a challenge. Many executives begin their search through an RFP, which has become the industry standard approach. But in our opinion, it’s not necessarily the most useful or most efficient option.

We’ve aggregated our best advice and insights for evaluating healthcare software development companies. We hope it offers some helpful tips for finding a long-lasting, collaborative partner who can ultimately be as impactful as possible on your business outcomes.

1 – Define your partnership goals internally

Before assessing external partnership opportunities, start by defining the needs and pain points of the companies, patients, communities, or customers you serve. Prepare a checklist of requirements including points such as:

  • Service scalability and access-from-anywhere option
  • Patient connectivity practices and cross-platform features
  • Secure patient data governance and exchange
  • Authorized-only access
  • Data encryption in case of cyberattacks
  • Compliance with industry-standard frameworks (e.g. HIPAA, SOC2, HITRUST)
  • Activity log
  • HTTPS+SSL data protection (consider adopting NIST framework)

Finally, be sure to consider how the product will impact your business model and ROI. Many healthcare products look promising when ideating them, yet there are always risks to consider.

2 – Leverage strong tech expertise 

Start your search process by simply reviewing a prospective partner’s background, i.e. testimonials, past projects, and current partnerships. Next up, consider the specific (but unique) skills needed to match your organization’s ongoing goals. If you’re still defining your needs or comparing different technologies, take advantage of a free consultation with one of our experts.

3 – Encourage an innovative mindset 

At Newfire we believe that innovation is not an effort – it’s a mindset. Look for a partner who doesn’t just deliver a product by checking boxes. 

Get comfortable allowing your partner to think outside the box. It may sound unconventional, but it’s possible to capitalize on your partner’s non-healthcare expertise too. While healthcare is a complex industry, medical software products often benefit from concepts taken from other markets. For example, Lubrizol is a $7B company most people know from its oil and fuel business. But in recent years they’ve focused primarily on pharmaceutical and medical device innovation.

In short, engage with a partner who you can work side-by-side with you to disrupt the market as it continuously evolves.

“When we proposed an idea or a solution, our Newfire team would sometimes push back and say: ‘I don’t think that’s the right approach. Here’s what we could do instead.’ This type of collaboration helped us be held accountable and get things done.”
Bill Olsen
Bill Olsen
CTO @ UptimeHealth
1 of X

4 – Rely on industry-specific quality assurance 

A reliable and effective partner will encourage comprehensive user testing to ensure the quality of your product. After a few rounds of high-load user testing, you’ll gain insights about how your product is used by real patients in various scenarios. That’s how you’ll build software that really works.

5 – Prioritize the long haul

Technology is constantly evolving, especially with health data interoperability. We suggest finding a partner that consistently stays current with changes in the IT industry. Having access to distributed talent can ensure that you’re able to work on a technical task of any complexity.

A good partner anticipates roadblocks and unforeseen issues as early as the planning stages and far beyond. Organizations aimed at customer success craft their strategic outlook months and years in advance, with an IT partnership often considered priority. Be sure to discuss the support and advisory structures your partner has in place. A flexible and future-conscious IT partner is an invaluable ally. Looking for a relationship with someone who has a vested interest in your success? Find time for a quick chat with our Head of Growth.

6 – Connect the dots between healthcare and software

The most effective partner will connect the dots between healthcare and software. Look for a partner who understands and respects your product development processes, while also helping your team plug into theirs. This is how a solid partner helps to bridge the gap! 

7 – Focus on fit – cultural and ethical 

We all want coworkers who share our values and work ethic. The same holds true with your partners. Ineffective communication and conflicting values ultimately affect product quality. Here are a few ways to evaluate cultural fit:

  • Communication style – are they effective or just wasting meeting time?
  • Do they maintain a problem-solving mindset or are they just “yes-people?”
  • How proactive are they to understand and implement your ideas?

While interviewing a tech lead, offer an example problem/issue and see how they plan to tackle it. A solid action plan (backed by expertise), eagerness to problem solve, and clear, concise communication are the keystones of the team you need. 

Wrap up

Choosing a partner for your healthcare product development is often a time-consuming process. But we don’t think it has to be. Although bridging the gap is important, consider finding a partner that mirrors your organization’s values, ethics, and working style. Blending their vast expertise with your specific experience and long term goals will set your organization on the path to success.

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