MentorMate hosted “Corporate Development: Navigating Strategic Partnerships in Digital Health,” the third installment of a four-part Health Leaders Forum series last week bringing local health leaders and healthcare startups together.
Speakers on the panel included Jon Romans, CEO of BioMedix, Amrinder Singh, Director of Business Development & Strategy at Medtronic, and Grant Barrick, VP of Strategy and Innovation at Wolters Kluwer Health CDI. The panel, moderated by Shaye Mandle, President of Medical Alley Association, highlighted three main themes for healthcare startups when searching for strategic partnerships.
Preparing to Partner
When considering a partnership with large device companies or other tiered entities, begin by leveraging previously built relationships. John Romans of Biomedix shares that getting into the market can be tough, but by leveraging previously established relationships, you’ll have an easier time getting your foot in the door.
Grant Barrick of Wolters Kluwer suggested that partnerships can fall into two buckets: a table stake partnership or business-changing partnership.
Finding and Creating Partnerships
Now that you’ve built relationships with strategic healthcare leaders, how do you decide if each partnership is a good fit?
All three attendees stressed the importance of a cultural fit between both companies. “The cultural piece is incredibly important and if you can’t work with the party across the table for whatever reason, that can make or break a partnership,” said Amrinder Singh of Medtronic. Ensure that your internal sales and development teams work well together before bringing in external partners.
And even though your company cultures match and technical requirements are up-to-date, Amrinder reminds us that priorities can change: “We may welcome startup companies with open arms, but priorities can change. We look to learn about new technologies but don’t always find that we can make it in that market.”
No matter if a partnership begins to grow or if you’re shot down, be sure to maintain the relationship. “Follow-up conversations are good and can lend credibility to you and your company. You’re more likely to get attention each time you send a follow-up note or article,” shared Grant. Amrinder also added that business climates and products change. Put roles and past interactions aside to maintain a good relationship.
Maintaining a Mentality of Partnership
You’ve got a partnership up and running, but how do you maintain a healthy working relationship?
Amrinder recommends finding a company that is in the business of today. “Find entities that are growing with the fee for value proposition. Don’t limit yourself to hospitals or companies that are focused on today only, look for organizations who are moving today.”
Grant reminds us to be mindful of creating additional partnerships once you’re up and running with a notable client. Large strategic partners are interested in exclusive partnerships, “It’s not a non-starter, but it makes us wary. We want exclusive partnerships.”
Lastly, John says “Don’t be afraid to say ‘we need to revisit the contract.’” And, if needed, “…try to separate amicably.” You never know when you could be doing business with them further down the road.
The final installment in the series, “Healthcare CTO/CIO Panel: Implementation and Where the Digital Health Rubber Meets the Road,” takes place on December 6 at Worrell Design from 8-10 AM, and is created and sponsored by Medical Alley Association, MentorMate, Fox Rothschild and MobCon Digital Health.