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Why healthcare entrepreneurs need more than a core expertise

Christina Hernandez Sherwood on August 20, 2013

Andrey Ostrovsky's journey to entrepreneurship didn't take the typical route. A pediatric resident by training, Ostrovsky has also worked in the global health sector and on U.S. Senate policy. Those activities were informative (Ostrovsky's passion is helping vulnerable populations in a scalable way), but he also noted how slow the processes moved. By the time interventions were released, Ostrovsky said, they no longer represented the needs on the ground. "A lot of us haven't necessarily had the experience or guidance to learn how to scale impact like that," he said. Ostrovsky realized the for-profit model is the ideal vehicle for validation in the healthcare space.

When a friend decided to work on the issue of home care, Ostrovsky joined him to start Care at Hand, a platform that helps the home care workforce prevent hospital admissions by translating their layman's observations into clinical care data. Though not all business owners can mimic Ostrovsky's trajectory, his experience taught him some best practices for cultivating good life science and digital health entrepreneurs. The most successful healthcare entrepreneurs he's seen have a killer combination of a broad, core expertise and a deep vertical.

For instance, a physician with clinical experience who also has a background in design thinking and statistics is a potent combination. That's because that physician is uniquely qualified to work on data visualization that makes healthcare systems more accessible. In today's competitive market, Ostrovsky said, that triple threat creates a huge opportunity.

Here are some other entrepreneurial insights from Ostrovsky:

Get the help of an incubator or accelerator -- Care at Hand was part of the second class at Rock Health, Ostrovsky said. The program offered the young company valuable introductions, he said, especially with insurance companies. "[Incubators and accelerators] help facilitate those introductions so the necessary learning can happen, so business models can be validated," he said. "It's extremely hard to build a successful digital health company these days without the help of an incubator or accelerator."

You have to love hearing "no" -- When a potential customer tells you "no," Ostrovsky said, look at the rejection as a door you can close and move on from. Each "no" helps you better understand what the customer needs, he said. "Are you building something that somebody really wants?" Ostrovsky said. Good entrepreneurs, he added, have that question ingrained in their minds.

[Top photo by Editor B]

[Bottom photo of Andrey Ostrovsky]

Category:  Creation  Ideation  Tags:  Entrepreneur, Company Profiles, Care at Hand

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