Why Healthcare Delivery Companies are Choosing a Buy and Build Approach

Learn why digital health companies are adopting a ‘buy and build’ strategy for growth, and partnering with API-first healthcare platforms like Healthie to do so.

The next generation of healthcare continues to innovate and solve long-standing problems in the market. In the past, companies grappled with the decision of whether to build or buy solutions. However, contemporary digital health startups are embracing a dynamic approach, opting to both build and buy. By building on top of out-of-the-box solutions, companies are formulating highly customized software – without draining resources or delaying time-to-market. 

As competitiveness in the startup care delivery landscape increases, the ability to rapidly launch, customize, and scale innovative models is increasingly the distinguishing element between companies, instead of core infrastructure capabilities. API-first EHR platforms like Healthie makes it possible to achieve the benefits of building and buying at once.

Healthie hosted a panel of digital health experts from Mavida Health, Two Chairs, and Kaia Health to discuss how they formulated their own tech stacks, leveraging Healthie in a buy-and-build approach. Delving into the intricacies of their decision-making processes, they elaborate on the guiding criteria for building and buying, the importance of implementation, and also anticipating future changes. 

Below you’ll find a recap of our highlights. For those who want to hear it straight from the panelists, you’ll find the panel recording here

Takeaway 1: Healthcare startups need to focus on what their unique solutions bring to market, and not recreate the wheel by building infrastructure. 

Looking back a decade, the question for healthcare startups wasn’t whether to build or buy, because the option to buy didn’t exist. Instead, companies had to create in-house solutions to facilitate their main objective of a differentiated delivery of care. Building such proprietary tech was a drain on resources, delayed market launch, and took focus off of the company’s primary goals. Now with several solutions on the market, founders can instead choose a solution, and even build on top of that.

As Co-Founder and COO, Emma Sugarman considered the software for Mavida Health, she asked herself, “What can only I deliver?” and “What do I HAVE to own? What have other folks already built really sustainably and strongly that I can leverage?” 

Like a true COO, Emma Sugarman approaches building versus buying in a very methodical manner, defining 5 dimensions of consideration which are weighed and scored: 

  • Speed to market - How quickly can this be stood up?
  • Cost - How much will this cost in capital, time, and team focus?
  • Ownership - What is required to maintain this?
  • Flexibility/Optionality - If we choose this solution, how restricted will we be in the future? 
  • Capability - How does this stand up to our ideal solution?

The shared view amongst panelists is to not build something just because you can. If someone else is already doing this well, incorporate their solution and focus your own resources on the differentiating factor for your company. 

Our Learning - Stay true to what makes your company unique, and focus resources accordingly. When considering a new solution, be methodical in your approach to avoid loss of time or buyer’s regret later. 

Takeaway 2: Buying software is the easy part; The implementation, team onboarding, and constant optimization are what brings value – so choose your partners with a discerning eye.  

Decision-makers come to thoroughly understand the benefits of a product during the procurement process, as well as how it fits into the company’s long-term strategy. It’s important to be cognizant of who was not privy to those product deep dives, and realize how this new tool will affect their day-to-day. Recognizing that others may not grasp the full capabilities of the solution merely because it has been acquired, it becomes essential to secure buy-in from diverse stakeholders.

Brittanie Kraft, Director of Operations at Kaia Health emphasizes that, “you can see the big picture, that doesn’t mean everyone at the company does.” That is why the panelists favor providing ongoing updates with stakeholders to inform them how and why a solution is going to solve their current pain points. Acknowledging that the work of implementation is multifaceted and involves collaboration across different departments highlights the need for a holistic approach to ensure the new tool's success.

The setup of a modern, API-first solution is not just adapting the product to your company, but being able to build on top of it. Open APIs provide near limitless capabilities to customize and integrate all aspects of your tech stack, without the cost of thousands of hours of development. 

Erica Jain, Co-Founder & CEO of Healthie notes that, “When we talk about this notion of API-first, it really enables this concept of headless EHR, and building your own member experience to extend the capabilities and focus on that business differentiation.” 

Our Learning - A solution only solves problems if it is set up and implemented with care and attention. Get buy-in from various stakeholders and tackle these critical steps as a team. 

Takeaway 3: Think long-term scalability; Choose partners that are poised to scale alongside your business. 

It’s no surprise that with a panel of experts in startups, there is heavy discussion on the importance of company growth. The panelists reflected how much a company’s chosen vendors and solutions can support or hinder such growth.

Jake Powell, the Director of Strategy & BD at Two Chairs noted that “one of our first mistakes we’ve had in the past is that we underestimated the importance of flexibility.” He continued on that, “the reaction time and willingness to partner from the EMR side can not only stop innovation, but the day-to-day blocking and tackling can’t be handled.” 

As you are building the tech stack which is largely the backbone of the company, it’s a good time to think ahead and consider, how could this business change? If you have to pivot, expand your offering, or grow into a much larger entity – will your solution be fast enough, flexible enough and malleable to your future business needs? Brittanie Kraft expressed that one of the biggest benefits about having a modern solution is that it allows their team to “have fun innovation and to not have to think inside the box.” 

Brittanie Kraft also recommended tracking the product roadmaps for your vendors, as it can foreshadow future differences. “Looking at the vendor roadmap is huge – where does it align? You can even have the same type of values as a company, but if you see that they’re actually heading in a different direction than where you are, then maybe that’s a good sign to reevaluate your tooling and the vendors that you’re using.” 

Our Learning - As a startup, you will often need to pivot, and pivot quickly. Don’t underestimate the importance of flexibility as you build your tech stack - considering what your company will look like in 5 years, 10 years, and beyond.

Launch, grow & scale your business today.