What it takes to build a successful enterprise-startup partnership in digital health

Last week, Rock Health co-hosted an event with Kaiser Permanente Ventures (KPV) that brought together leaders from Kaiser Permanente and Validic to discuss how to build a successful enterprise-startup partnership. Validic is a KPV portfolio company and has been working with KP for four years to integrate patient-generated data into the provider EHR workflow so that care team members can manage patients outside the acute care setting.

The discussion, which featured KPV Director of Strategic Engagement Shruti Kathari, Kaiser Permanente Executive Director of Telehealth Angie Stevens, and Validic SVP of Product Brian Carter, centered around what it takes to build a long-lasting, impactful alliance. Here were the key takeaways.

Both parties should be on the same page when committing to a partnership beyond a traditional customer relationship. Integrating both the startup and the enterprise company in strategic planning and product growth requires bandwidth and relationship-building between the two companies. If the arrangement is strictly customer-vendor, that should be clear at the outset of the relationship.

The best enterprise partners understand they can’t always be the number-one priority. It’s important for the enterprise partner to give the digital health startup the space and flexibility it needs to pursue other contracts and allow them to sell their products to others. In other words, a good enterprise partner shouldn’t want or expect a digital health startup to put all its eggs in one basket.

Change management isn’t the exclusive responsibility of big organizations—startups should bring their own expertise in implementing and scaling solutions. For example, when Validic signed on with KP, they recognized early on that they couldn’t just rely on the enterprise to have a defined process for partnerships with external vendors—it would have to bring its own change management and implementation to bear. Startups serve an important market function because they can diffuse knowledge about how to effectively implement a product or service across large, and often siloed, healthcare organizations.

Read the full story and check out the Rock Health podcast that contains the full discussion here.