Are You Measuring Inputs or Impact?

Are You Measuring Inputs or Impact?

Sick care products and services, whether they are created by a for profit or non-profit, ultimately should be measured by the impact they have on patients or beneficiaries. Have you achieved your mission?

Unfortunately, the vast majority of non-profits and their funders ,and, many digital health entrepreneurs don't see it that way.

Most non profit groups track their performance by metrics such as dollars raised, membership growth, number of visitors, people served, and overhead costs. These metrics are certainly important, but they don’t measure the real success of an organization in achieving its mission. They are inputs and, for the most part, vanity numbers.

Here is a different way.

In other words, measure inputs, outputs and impact.

In the scientific publishing world, the impact factor (IF) is a measure of the frequency with which the average article in a journal has been cited in a particular year. It is used to measure the importance or rank of a journal by calculating the times it's articles are cited.

Social impact funders agree that measuring an investment’s social effect is important, that measurement can help organizations make better decisions and communicate their value, and that financial returns should be balanced with social returns. But most of these points of agreement remain theoretical: Few resources discuss the specific practices and methodologies that investors actually use to measure social impact. 

In some instances, measuring the direct contribution to a specific impact is hard, if not impossible to exactly measure. For example, the mission of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs is to help members get their ideas to patients. However, as a "dating service" connecting members of the open biomedical and clinical innovation ecosystems through an international chapter network, we make dates, not babies. It is up to members to create products and services that have patient impact. Like the old adage about advertising, half works, we just don't know which half.

Sick care entrepreneurs should be listening. Too often, particularly in digital health entrepreneurship, the goal is to produce a product that does not require FDA clearance, scale it as quickly as possible using viral emarketing techniques and then exit with the help of supportive investors. What is missing is the impact factor.

Impact can be described as the multiple of user defined value created by the outputs. Are you creating an app to reduce unwanted pregnancies or help women get pregnant? Your impact should be the results of true positives and true negatives, not how many customers "engage " on your platform.

Without measuring your impact, what you are doing is merely mission theater instead of doing what is mission critical.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs

Share this article

Leave your comments

Post comment as a guest

terms and condition.
  • Norbert Cymer

    Unfortunately, most companies are money driven, they don't care about impact.

  • Peyman Khosravani

    Yes you can get viral in a short amount of time, but will customers remember you? It's how you impact their daily life that will keep them with you during hardships.

  • Wesley Stomp

    Forget fame and success and focus on building a strong reputation, that's how people will remember your legacy.

  • Paurush Singh

    Thought provoking read

  • Alex Guzman

    A combination of successful inputs and powerful impact is ideal for any firm.

Share this article

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA

Former Contributor

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is a professor emeritus of otolaryngology, dentistry, and engineering at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health and President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at He has created several medical device and digital health companies. His primary research centers around biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship and life science technology commercialization. He consults for and speaks to companies, governments, colleges and universities around the world who need his expertise and contacts in the areas of bio entrepreneurship, bioscience, healthcare, healthcare IT, medical tourism -- nationally and internationally, new product development, product design, and financing new ventures. He is a former Harvard-Macy fellow and In 2010, he completed a Fulbright at Kings Business, the commercialization office of technology transfer at Kings College in London. He recently published "Building the Case for Biotechnology." "Optical Detection of Cancer", and " The Life Science Innovation Roadmap". He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology and Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. In addition, He is a faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver Graduate School where he teaches Biomedical Entrepreneurship and is an iCorps participant, trainer and industry mentor. He is the Chief Medical Officer at and and Chairman of the Board at GlobalMindED at, a non-profit at risk student success network. He is honored to be named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives of 2011 and nominated in 2012 and Best Doctors 2013.

Cookies user prefences
We use cookies to ensure you to get the best experience on our website. If you decline the use of cookies, this website may not function as expected.
Accept all
Decline all
Read more
Tools used to analyze the data to measure the effectiveness of a website and to understand how it works.
Google Analytics