When you think about major industries that have been reshaped in recent memory by disruptive innovations, healthcare might not be at the top of your list.
However, per Statista’s 2020 reporting on value added to the GDP in the U.S., healthcare ranked in the top five industries along with educational services and social assistance. These industries accounted for a grand total of $1.8 billion, putting them only slightly behind government and manufacturing. Although healthcare is one of the largest sectors of the U.S. economy, it has traditionally proven resistant to many of the same technologies and processes that have sparked profound changes elsewhere.
Look no further than doctor’s offices’ ongoing reliance on the fax machine, which is still being used by 90% of healthcare facilities, according to a 2019-2020 survey from the telemedicine software company TigerConnect. Additionally, another 39% are still using pagers. While they are virtually obsolete in most other environments, healthcare relies heavily on older, less secure technologies.
U.S. healthcare has not seen the long-term decrease in price and increase in perceived value that characterizes everything from electronics to renewable energy. Whereas the costs of TVs and solar panels have declined with time, many pharmaceuticals and medical procedures have become more expensive.
This unique context affords entrepreneur opportunities in healthcare for those who can convince healthcare providers that innovation and adopting new technologies are the future of patient care. By earning a Healthcare MBA from an accredited institution, entrepreneurs can begin their journey to making a difference in countless lives.
6 Entrepreneur Opportunities in Healthcare to Consider
The healthcare industry’s history of resisting and slow-rolling various changes — often to the detriment of patients, providers and payers — creates an opening for entrepreneurs with innovative, agile products and services that can deliver more value than the status quo. Many entrepreneur opportunities in healthcare have been seized by innovative companies that are charting a new course forward.
1. Ovarian Cancer Detection
The American Cancer Society estimates that 21,410 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in 2021 and that over 64% of those patients diagnosed will not survive. A woman’s lifetime risk of
developing ovarian cancer is roughly 1 in 78, which has made detection and treatment of this condition one of the most important issues in women’s health. The most common treatment for ovarian cancer is either a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) and/or an oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries).
Detecting cancerous cells in the ovaries requires collecting samples from delicate tissue that can easily be damaged by conventional tools such as catheters. The medical device startup nVision Medical pioneered the idea of instead using a small balloon for the procedure. The company, which aims to gain Food and Drug Administration approval for this device, was acquired by Boston Scientific for $270 million in April 2018.
2. Health Insurance
Startup Oscar Health was founded in 2012 to be a different kind of health insurer, one focused on telemedicine, internet-enabled technology and a highly transparent claims process. The company attracted significant venture funding — $1.8 billion in total and $375 million from Google and YouTube parent company Alphabet in late 2018. Oscar estimated that its telemedicine usage rate was five times the industry average and that 82% of its members had set up a web profile, which provides around-the-clock access to telemedicine benefits and a team of nurses and other healthcare professionals.
3. Bedside Monitoring
Continuously monitoring a patient’s vital signs — blood pressure, body temperature, respiratory rate, blood oxygen, three-lead ECG and heart rate — can be costly. Most solutions for this task feature a lot of custom hardware, which is expensive to manufacture, maintain and repair.
Stasis Labs took a different approach with its continuous monitoring technology. Its platform harnesses the power of cloud computing by pairing off-the-shelf hardware with streamlined software and sends its updates from the cloud to nurses’ stations and tablets. Functions that once required the specialized machinery of a dedicated bedside monitor are now accessible through a variety of devices connected to the Stasis Labs cloud. According to Harvard Business Review, Stasis Labs’ services cost only 15% of the company’s competitors’ offerings.
4. Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
EHRs have become a fixture of modern healthcare practice, but they’re often as much of an inconvenience as an asset. Physicians and their teams waste a lot of time looking for the right information, often struggling to overcome “note bloat” that saddles them with tons of irrelevant and redundant data. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that physicians spent an average of 16 minutes and 14 seconds per encounter reviewing EHRs, which is longer than the typical 15-minute appointment.
Startup Flatiron Health sought to change EHR usage for the better. Its analytics engine synthesizes insights from EHRs and unstructured data from sources such as labs and insurer networks to make recommendations about which cancer drugs are most effective. Pharmaceutical giant Roche purchased Flatiron Health for $1.9 billion.
5. Medical Transcription Services
As previously mentioned, the documentation and reviewing of detailed notes can be time consuming. The more patients a doctor sees, the more notes the doctor needs to take. This can be especially challenging when verbal notes need to be transcribed in a way that ensures they are accurate and available to other healthcare providers. However, with the advancement of technology, medical transcription services make this process easy and accurate.
Acusis is widely regarded as one of the best medical transcription services on the market. Audio files can be uploaded via a smartphone or traditional landline, and its high level of security ensures compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
6. Mobile Healthcare Apps</h3>
According to the FDA, a health app is mobile software that diagnoses, tracks or treats disease. In comparison, a wellness app enhances and/or tracks the overall health and condition of the user. Both health and wellness apps have grown in number and in usership, especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when telehealth became the only option for some patients.
One popular app is Teledoc, which grants patients 24/7 access to a board-certified doctor by phone or video chat. BetterHelp is an app that provides mental and emotional help. Patients using this app receive an inexpensive and easy access to licensed therapists and counselors via messaging or video chat.
C-Suite Diversity in Healthcare Startups
Per the 2019 reporting of the American College of Healthcare Executives and the American Hospital Association, 89% of hospital CEOs were white. In almost half of not-for-profit hospitals, the C-suite had no minorities at all, and in these hospitals, the leadership boards were 90% white. There is clearly still more work to be done to increase diversity in the healthcare C-suite and therefore increase output. Many executives believe that diversity leads to more successful decision-making, contributes to an organization’s ability to meet its strategic goals and allows for more equity of care.
The lack of gender diversity is also evident. Women comprise less than a third of all C-suite leadership in the healthcare industry. This is particularly alarming given how many women are employed in the healthcare industry; according to the 2020 “Women in the Workforce” report, women make up 75% of the entry-level roles but hold only 29% of the C-suite-level positions. This means that they are severely underrepresented in the decision-making that affects them every day.
Pay inequality between men and women continues to be an issue in healthcare as well. In 2020, male physicians were paid approximately 27% more than their female counterparts, according to a compensation report performed by MedScape. This is up from the previous year, in which male physicians made approximately 25% more than female physicians.
Getting Started with Healthcare Entrepreneurship
Identifying the different entrepreneur opportunities in healthcare is not a one-size-fits-all process. Some people succeed with their first project, while others take years and multiple tries before they break through. That said, there are some general guiding principles that can help:
Entrepreneur opportunities in healthcare can present themselves when you’re surrounded by those who are also trying to bring innovation to the industry. A program such as a rigorous, conveniently structured online Healthcare MBA can help connect aspiring entrepreneurs with instructors, industry professionals, peers and alumni who can provide valuable insight and guidance.
For more than 15 years, the George Washington University’s online Healthcare MBA has ensured its students have these opportunities to develop specialized expertise at the intersection of business and healthcare. It is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and has a flexible online format that is ideal for students with busy schedules and numerous commitments.
Have a Clear Plan
“Winging it” isn’t normally a sound strategy for starting a business, even a startup. Formulating a detailed business plan gives you a great starting point for conversations with potential investors, partners and employees. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but its very existence is often a powerful signal that you’ve done your homework and can be counted on.
The flip side of planning well is to realize when it’s good to deviate from your plan. For example, maybe you initially planned on being the CEO of your company, but became overwhelmed by unforeseen challenges. That might be the right moment to bring in an industry veteran to help manage some of these issues while you take on a different role.
Become an Entrepreneur in Healthcare
Some factors keeping doctors from also being executives include lack of management education and experience. This can change when medical professionals advance their education. Physicians today are pursuing business degrees, like a Healthcare MBA, as a step toward advancement in the healthcare industry. With a business-minded focus, entrepreneur opportunities in healthcare become more evident and obtainable.
The online Healthcare MBA at George Washington University can be your ticket to an entrepreneurial career. Learn more by visiting the main program page or looking at the program’s curriculum.