Your Cheat Sheet for Finding a Healthcare Integration Partner
We’ve all heard the stats around how challenging growing a digital healthcare company is. The most terrifying one, perhaps, is that 98% of digital healthcare startups fail.
Why do so many digital health startups fail? According to Becker’s Hospital Review, the two top reasons are 1. If they have an IT mindset, they don’t pay enough attention to healthcare idiosyncrasies, and 2. If they have a healthcare mindset, they aren’t keeping up with the evolution of technology.
Handling healthcare integrations is right at the intersection of these two pitfalls. When it comes to healthcare integrations, you have to know every one of the idiosyncrasies in healthcare, and you have to understand the nuances of cutting-edge technology in the market.
More often than not, digital health vendors don’t think about integrations on Day 1, Day 2, or even Day 100 of their business endeavor. Usually, they don’t think about integrating with other systems at all until their customers bring the need to their attention, and digital health vendors are starting from square 1 to find the right solution for their organization.
The complexities in both healthcare and technology make it difficult to really know what solution is right for the specific needs of your unique technology or platform. As you start evaluating integration vendors, they are likely asking you what you need from an integration partner, and you may not even know exactly what you need. So, to make it easier, we’ve created a cheat sheet for evaluating potential integration partners. Here are four key questions you should be asking during the evaluation process.
1. Can They Support My Workflows?
- What You Need to Do – Evaluate the needs of your customers. Ask your customers what integrations are important to them:
- Why do they even need integrations?
- What are the business problems they’re trying to solve?
- What systems do they want your product to integrate with?
- How much of a priority is it to them?
- Could it make or break their decision on purchasing your technology?
- What You Need to Ask Integration Vendors – Bring all of your customers’ questions/concerns to your first call. Get answers for the following questions:
- What sector of healthcare do you usually work in (payers, post-acute, acute, specialty, etc.)?
- What data formats/standards can you integrate using? What are the limitations you’ve experienced?
- What systems do you currently integrate with? Do you have relationships with those vendors?
- What are the specific use cases you currently have for those systems/data formats?
2. What’s the Lift for Me?
- What You Need to Do – Evaluate your internal resources. Ask yourself and your teams these questions:
- Do we have any integration experts in-house? If so, what is their level of expertise?
- The current bandwidth of the following teams that will need to be involved in customer integration projects:
- Technical Resources
- Compliance/Contracting Resources
- Client-Experience & Support Resources
- Talk to your business partners and decide: how much work do you want your team to do, not only on building the integrations, but managing and maintaining the integrations as well?
- What You Need to Ask Integration Vendors – With the bandwidth and the goals of your team in mind, you can ask the potential integration vendors these questions:
- What is the onboarding process to get our team ready for the integration partnership?
- Let’s say, tomorrow, you sign a new healthcare customer who needs an integration. What is the process to start the integration project for that customer?
- How many technical resources does it usually require to build integrations using your solution?
- What resources will we need to help our customers find the best integration solution for them (solution engineers, integration specialist, etc.)?
- How many technical resources does it usually require to monitor and maintain the integration as our product/platform updates? What about when systems our customers use that are involved in the integrations get updated?
- How does your team handle changes in the automated workflow itself?
3. How Does It Scale?
- What You Need to Do – Outline the goals you’re trying to achieve within the next year and how integrations will help you reach those goals. Ask your team:
- How much of our pipeline are we expecting to get from the healthcare industry alone?
- What percentage of our total revenue per deal are we willing to pay for integrations?
- Based on our average conversion rate in healthcare, and the percentage of our healthcare customers that need integrations, how many integrations will we need to deliver in the next 6 months? The next year? The next 3 years?
- What is our average time to onboard customers to our platform now, and how are we expecting integrations to affect that?
- What You Need to Ask Integration Vendors –
- How does your pricing work? Is there a cost per integration? Are there additional fees for your platform or for maintaining integrations? What is the cost per integration?
- Does the cost per integration decrease depending on how many integrations we need?
- If we need one type of integration for multiple customers, does it need to be custom-built each time?
- If we hit our goal of X new healthcare customers this year, we will potentially be implementing X amount of integrations — is your team/platform able to support that need?
4. How Strong Is the Partnership?
- What You Need to Do – Decide exactly what your team is looking for in a true integration partner. Gather the answers to these questions:
- Are we looking for someone to guide us through the complexities of healthcare integrations, or do we feel confident that we have a good understanding of what we need?
- Do you have solid relationships with large healthcare vendors (EHRs, CRMs, etc.) or are you hoping the integration vendor will bring that to the table?
- How much does our sales team understand integrations now vs. how much you’ll need them to understand in order to incorporate into your sales cycle?
- What You Need to Ask Integration Vendors –
- How “hands-on” is your team when it comes to issues that may arise while our integrations are being implemented?
- What is your strategy for working with mega-suite vendors, such as Epic or Cerner?
- What is your process for ensuring our sales team is talking about your solutions in the correct way when selling to healthcare customers?
- Can you provide a customer reference or case studies to show us how you help companies like ours succeed?
If you’re a digital health vendor and your customers are inquiring about integrations, finding the right solution (and finding that solution quickly) can be overwhelming. In 2020, our options are endless for almost anything we want or need, and healthcare integrations are no exception. And while that may seem like a luxury, it can backfire when trying to evaluate a partner or platform for such a large, complex problem in a large, complex industry. This cheat sheet not only helps you ask the right questions to find the right integration vendor, but it can help you feel and seem more confident in integration conversations, both with your customers and with vendors.