Barriers to Digital Health Physician Entrepreneurship

Barriers to Digital Health Physician Entrepreneurship

It seems that almost everyone who has anything to do with sick care is trying to innovate, move the needle, disrupt, create game changers and win the 4th industrial revolution. It could be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.

That particularly applies to digital health physician entrepreneurship. While investments in digital health continue to rise, applications are evolving and use cases that demonstrate both a clinical and business ROI appear each day, there are persistent barriers to the mass design, development, testing, and deployment , dissemination and implementation into clinical practice. That's because there are many stops along the digital health innovation roadmap and the exits are not clearly marked.

They are:

  1. The lack of an entrepreneurial mindset and the the courage, conviction and confidence to persist with an entrepreneurial venture.
  2. Finding seed stage and follow on money or bootstrapping it
  3. Deciding whether to and how to get FDA clearance for your product
  4. Navigating the software and hardware IP issues and creating a product-market mix when your product is IP.
  5. Lacking fundamental entrepreneurship knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies
  6. Creating a viable business model with the proper product-market fit (translation:creating something no one wants to buy)
  7. Knowing how to scale a business.
  8. Overcoming the barriers to technology adoption and penetration, dissemination and implementation
  9. Integrating your software or hardware product into legacy EMRs
  10. Getting out of pilot purgatory
  11. Staffing your startup team
  12. Finding the right advisors and board of director
  13. Not understanding how startup CMOs create value.
  14. Confusion about whether you are being hired for execution or strategy
  15. Not creating a digital health whole product solution
  16. Deciding whether and how to do clinical trials for a digital health product.
  17. Making your product cybersecure
  18. Create a risk management and mitigation strategy
  19. How to bridge the now, the next and the new
  20. How to use digital health technologies to create value and help scale humans.

Overcoming all of these barriers can consume you for a lifetime. That is, at least between the 2 minutes you have between each patient visit. Someone should write a book about this stuff.

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

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  • Ryan Thorpe

    One of the biggest barriers to innovation in digital health entrepreneurship is that there are several key stakeholders who must be addressed before a company can successfully bring their product to market.

  • Alex Faulkner

    The healthcare system is moving more slowly than other industries because there are several conflicts between regulators, payors, clinicians and patients.

  • Emma Newman

    If an exciting digital health company innovates too fast and is a few steps ahead of the industry, it could ruin its business model.

  • Mike Butcher

    Healthcare startups have a lot more than just creating a cool product.

  • Olivia Charlotte

    I truly believe that this stems from the fact that there is no safe way for healthcare administrators and IT personnel, digital health entrepreneurs, startup incubators, and academics to play together.

  • Sandra Mauritz

    If these barriers cannot be managed, it will be very difficult for promising startups to break-even and provide meaningful results.

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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.

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