10 Reasons Why Digital Health Startups Fail

Startups, in general, fail for many reasons. One observer mentioned his top 5 reasons as 1) lack of capital, 2) expanding too soon, 3) heavy reliance on debt, 4) poor strategy, and 5) poor business model and plan.

Digital health startups suffer from the same symptoms, but, because of the unique and complicated sick care and health care ecosystems, there are other reasons too:

1. Entrepreneurs underestimate the complexity and special challenges of USAsickcare, Inc,

2. They don't involve end users early and often enough to develop and validate their business model. They don't listen to physicians and other members of the care team. Cumbersome, frustrating, maddening products result.

3. They don't satisfy the needs of mulitple stakeholders, instead focusing on just one

4. They overestimate patient healthcare IQs

5. They make products that interfere with physician workflow instead of making it easier

6. They create products that save neither time nor lives

7. They launch products that are not clinically validated and simply don't do what they are supposed to do

8. They rely too much on changing human behavior

9. They are designed to scale quickly and do not have a sustainable business model

10. They are not different or offer a compelling value proposition

There are many digital health design, development and deployment gaps. Most companies don't close them and that is why half don't last 2 years. The results are failed startups and digital clutter in the marketplace, further confusing doctors and their patients. Digital health is still in its infancy so we can expect to see a lot of failures. What we should not expect is for the situation to persist much longer . We need digital health infrastructure and ecosystems to reduce the cost of failure and that result in inexpensive, easy to use, effective products. 

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at www.sopenet.org