38 lessons from digital health CEOs

Mollie McDowell
February 09, 2014

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With keynotes from healthymagination VP and CEO Sue Siegel, prolific VC Vinod Khosla, Oscar Insurance founder Joshua Kushner, and TechCrunch Managing Editor Leena Rao on top of 20 breakout sessions with leading digital health executives, our 2014 CEO Summit covered everything from hardware pro-tips to selling tactics and ‘Fun with the Feds’.

Relive the magic and dive into the top 38 quotes and lessons learned throughout the day, as told by digital health CEOs.

The state of things

1. “Healthcare is yet to be transformed by technology.”
Joshua Kushner

2. “The state of healthcare today is that we are busy in the practice of medicine vs. being in the science of medicine.”
Vinod Khosla

3. “We humans think linearly but tech trends are exponential.”
Vinod Khosla

4. “People like Congress more than their health insurance companies.”
Joshua Kushner

5. “People don’t really understand the difference between health coverage, benefits, plans, services, etc. That’s not the way consumers think—it’s all wrapped up together.”
Alternative Delivery Models / Insurance Reform

6. “The net promoter score of health insurers averages 4/100. Amazon is 74/100.”
Joshua Kushner

Breaking in

7. “If I wanted to be a doctor today I’d go to math school not med school.”
Vinod Khosla

8. “You need a degree of foolishness to cause disruptive change in healthcare. Dare to dream.”
Vinod Khosla

9. “Learn to cold call.”
Selling to Hospitals session

10. “If you’re going to re-invent healthcare you have to start from scratch.”
Vinod Khosla

11. “Spreadsheets are fiction. Believing in what you’re doing and what you’re building is what’s important.”
Vinod Khosla

12. “One of the best things data can enable us to do is to ask questions we didn’t know to ask.”
Vinod Khosla

Business

13. “A great CFO can make going public all the easier; make sure you’re under good leadership, because the experience is extraordinarily difficult.”
Steps to an S-1 session

14. “Find your competitor’s FDA consultants (look at the predicates for your own device). A lot of times the academic site where the clinical testing was done is a good lead.”
FDA session

15. “HR is a cost center, a burden on the organization and getting squeezed.”
Selling to Employers session

16. “Turn your HIPAA status into marketing materials and put it in the sales deck with the goal pre-empting the Chief Security Officer or the like. Otherwise, you spend most of a sales conversation fighting them off with compliance questions.”
HIPAA session

17. “Find P&L owners (Brand Managers or Directors of Wellness); just don’t get stuck in the ‘Innovation’ group”
B2B Partnerships session

Money, money, money

18. “Don’t bother with crowd-funding schemes that involve selling equity in the company, they’re very confusing.”
Navigating Funding Channels session

19. “Do not apply for grants that are not perfectly aligned with your business. Grant writing can take hundreds of hours.”
Free Money session

20. “Know your ROI and how it will reduce costs.”
Selling to Employers session

21. “When considering an acquisition, on either end, make sure your missions and operations are tightly aligned; it will make the onboarding process that much easier, and the long-term success of the marriage much more likely.”
Building, Transforming and Disrupting Through M&A session

22. “It’s important that you choose investors that trust you. If you pivot or if make other wild changes, you need to know that they have your back.”
Navigating Funding Channels session

23. “There are so many factors that aren’t in your control when trying to public. If the window presents itself and you have done the necessary preparations, go for it. You never know when the window will close or the market becomes too inhospitable, and you may lose your chance.”
Steps to an S-1 session

24. “After 5 deals, start to get your pricing right. Ask a trusted internal champion (that you’ve already sold to) if they would’ve paid more.”
Selling to Hospitals session

Making good products

25. “No old person wants to buy tech thats made for old people.”
AARP

26. “The key to good product is invisibility for the user.”
Converting Skeptics session

How to play well with others

27. “Partnership is going to be absolutely key to taking healthcare to the next transition in evolution.”
Sue Siegel

28. “Build trust with potential customers by teaching them about the market.”
B2B Partnerships session

29. “Get out of R&D, they tend to just kick around the tires.”
B2B Partnerships session

…especially hospitals

30. “The first hospital customer is really difficult. By 10 it gets easier. At 25, you should know how to scale.”
B2B Partnerships session

31. “Early on, find a ‘development partner’ hospital to work with. Find a hospital that’s well respected as well as progressive.”
Selling to Hospitals session

32. “Avoid academic medical centers early on. They move too slowly and are full of committees. For-profit hospitals move faster.”
Selling to Hospitals session

33. “Don’t give away your product for free (to a hospital), or they won’t value or use is.”
Selling to Hospitals session

34. “Typical sales cycle to a hospital is 3-18 months.”
Selling to Hospitals session

35. “Find an influencer in the industry to serve as your ‘reference customer.”
Selling to Hospitals session

Keeping the Feds happy

36. “You can hide from the FDA until you impinge on an incumbent’s business. They’re going to point you out very quickly to the FDA if they feel threatened. Startups are always carrying that risk, and thus it’s better to be proactive.”
FDA session

37. “You have to get the lingo down. There’s no such thing as ‘HIPAA-compliant’ unless you are the Covered Entity. You (as a startup) are HIPAA-secure.”
HIPAA session

38. “Go above and beyond HIPAA-secure. There’s a distinction between ‘security’ (actually secure) and ‘compliance’ (checking the boxes).”
HIPAA session

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