Today I realized a good way to describe the difference between a large company and a startup company. I was reading an interview with a very large healthcare IT company and whenever he was asked about the innovations they’re working on in healthcare IT he referred to their R&D budget or their R&D efforts. As more of a startup person myself, I found the mentality interesting to compare against a startup company. At a startup company, your entire company is focused on innovating.
I find the approach so uniquely different and explains why many hospital organizations don’t want to work with startup companies. These hospital organizations are afraid that the startup company won’t deliver the results they expect. I get it. It’s much easier to “choose IBM” versus go with a newer startup company when working on a project. I think we regularly underestimate the value of a great brand.
I’ve seen the same. While my blog network has deep reach into the healthcare IT community, I’ve seen companies fawn all over Forbes bloggers (not to be confused with Forbes journalists) mostly because they saw the Forbes brand. The power of a great brand is tremendous. In fact, the power of a known brand (even if it’s not a great brand) is extremely powerful.
What I find most ironic though is that most hospitals love being part of the “innovation” programs these large companies put together. You’ve all seen the press releases that are put out between large company A and hospital B. Why are hospitals so interested in being part of large health IT companies R&D efforts and yet they’re scared of health IT startups?
I’m sure some would make the case that the large health IT companies will be around for a while and the health IT startup companies might not be. This is true, but what’s to keep a large health IT company from cutting their R&D budget and killing your innovation program? Nothing. Isn’t that the same thing as a health IT startup company closing up shop? In fact, I’d argue that the later might be better for you. If the health IT startup company was on to something and just ran out of funding, you could buy the whole startup company and continue your efforts. Try doing that with a shutdown innovation program at a large company.
I think healthcare would really benefit from being more open to startup innovations. I realize that the politics of a hospital system make it tough. However, with some smart planning and thought, we could find ways to make working with health IT startups easier. Our hospitals and healthcare in general would really benefit from doing so.