Guest post by Mike Patel, CEO of Meditab Software.
The rapidly growing and changing technology landscape of the healthcare industry means that companies catering to this market are also rapidly developing and adapting.
Technological advancements are happening so quickly that healthcare companies have to be able to move quickly to stay relevant and effective. This can be a challenge for large, public companies because there are a lot of moving parts that all need to be working in unison to make the vehicle run, not to mention many layers of approval to navigate.
A private company can be more nimble, more customer-oriented and more experimental with the way they use technology. In an industry where “fly-by-night” companies are a regularly accepted occurrence, there is something to be said for well-established, stable and privately held companies in the healthcare industry and the benefits they can provide to their customers.
For example, when a company is privately held, there are no demands for quarterly increases to meet shareholder goals and no immediate pressure to introduce something revolutionary every few months. When companies are trying to please numerous entities, it can lead to poorly matched mergers, as well as the “sun-setting” of similar products within a combined company, often upsetting existing customers who are basically left hanging with a product that will not be further developed or supported.
A privately held company in the healthcare industry that I’ve noticed has experienced much success (other than Meditab, of course) and growth is venture-backed: Sonacare Medical, a world leader in minimally invasive high intensity focused ultrasound technologies.
Because of their ability to concentrate on creating great products in a specialty area, they have grown to be leaders in their field. More than 130 Sonablate 500 systems are installed in more than 30 countries and over 12,000 prostate cancer patients have been treated with Sonablate 500. The company has focused on developing technologies for urological indications that offer precise and innovative procedures that can control cancer and reduce potential quality of life altering side effects.
As a result of Sonacare’s focused global growth strategy, the company has been able to recently introduce two new products and experience a 230 percent increase in international sales in 2012, tripling its international distributors.
Across all industries, consumers should choose to align themselves with companies that reflect values, such as loyalty to their customers and a commitment to creating and developing quality products. This is particularly important with business relationships in the healthcare industry, as companies must be vested in the best interests of their clients and willing to grow with them. There are some indicators that people should be aware of in terms of determining the strength and stability of a company. It’s important for consumers to do a little research and find out how long a company has been around and how long their products have been in use.
Those are good indicators of the stability of a company.
The best teacher is history. Some of the larger organizations in the industry have chosen to do away with certain older or less viable products, instead of taking the time and effort to improve them in support of their customers. There are companies that even rebrand the same product over and over, leading consumers to believe that it is a completely different product, when in reality, it’s the same old thing. Companies with longevity and independence can continue to provide clients with enhancements, updates and support to the product they know and use rather than migrate them to another solution.
Companies that have multiple products are having to rebrand constantly, and “sunset” often, as products are constantly changing, and mandates are not met.
As the industry continues to grow and change, consumers need to be well-educated about the choices they make and the providers they trust. Physicians, in particular, should think about whether they rather would be one in a 1,000 vs. one in 100,000.
With something as complex as a potential electronic health records implementation, having a partner you trust and who you can easily reach for questions, support and guidance is key. Being part of a large user community is great, but only if you also get to experience being the center of that community when you need it most.