Jul 052013


I’m off to “Entrepreneur's Day with NHS England”  being organised by Cambridge Health Networks where I expect to see a lot of HANDI members and be able to recruit some new ones.

I’ve been a serial, if not always successful, commercial and social entrepreneur since I was 13 and through my work with HANDI I have spoken  literally many hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs in the digital health and care space, most of who are a lot closer to 13 than I am today.  So from my own experience and that of others I hope I know what entrepreneurs want.

Well , like all of us, they want some mixture of money, glory, power and sex and are driven to achieve this by a heady mixture of love and fear. But, to be more specific about what they want in the digital health and care world I think this falls in to three areas in this order:

A route to market

They want to understand which business models will enable them to deliver sustainable products and service and achieve the commercial and/or social return they seek. This means:

  • Help in getting an enterprise of the ground in particular investment and mentorship (although too many young entrepreneurs don’t recognise their need for the later)
  • Guidance on business models and in particular support for novel business models that have the potential to provide a better way to buy and sell than traditional ones.
  • If the target payer is the public sector, help through the procurement jungle and public procurement channels that are accessible to start-ups and micro-enterprises.
  • A sales channel. Many entrepreneurs have neither the capacity nor inclination to do the required selling and would find the assistance of a appropriately configured sales organisation really helpful.

Help with quality and regulation

This is a fraught area for entrepreneurs in health and care. They recognise the need for regulation where poor quality can cause serious harm, want to comply with regulatory requirements and recognise the value of being able to demonstrate they meet appropriate quality standards, but they don’t want to be mired in onerous bureaucratic processes. They want:

  • Clarity with regard to legal requirements so they can properly address their compliance and risk management.  Today, it can be near impossible to get such clarity from regulators like the MHRA.
  • Access to independent quality assurance services which can provide meaningful but lightweight quality and safety accreditation that allows those who invest in quality and safety to distinguish their products and services from those who don’t. There are too many “snake oil” salesmen in the health and care apps market.
  • Help and guidance in meeting those quality and safety requirements that are required or useful to them.

Help to play nicely together

Delivering the real promise of digital tools requires that individual products and service from different, maybe competing, suppliers can work together orchestrated so they provide a unified experience to user, sharing data where appropriate with access to the common services they need to achieve this. This means:

  • Help and guidance with regard to interfaces, standards, software orchestration and interoperability.
  • Meaningful access to open interfaces (APIs) on relevant third party systems.
  • Access to a digital health ecosystem that provides the infrastructure and services required to support interoperability, orchestration and playing nicely together.

HANDI can help with all of these things. I look forward to hear how NHS England can help.

  One Response to “What Entrepreneurs want?”

  1. […] can read more about barriers to innovation in my blog “What Entrepreneurs Want” over on the HANDI web […]