Due to the constant, frantic pace of technology, both within the medical sector and in general, the healthcare sector has become very attractive to a lot of people with that unique entrepreneurial spark. Worries about a shortage in medical staff in the future has also stimulated a lot of new enterprises in the healthcare sector. Whether you’re interested in caregiving, research, medical tech or any other facet of this huge industry, it’s important to know that it’s fraught with challenges. Here are some of the biggest ones facing healthcare businesses today…
There are a lot of industries which have a reputation for very slow growth, but even among these the healthcare sector stands out. Sure, you might be sitting on an absolutely revolutionary business idea, but every medical business needs to operate according to the industry’s massive emphasis on data. No new medicine, facility or technology will be approved for use without a period of rigorous testing, and proof that it’s suitable for purpose through reliable data. This entire process takes time, and if you’re planning to set up a new clinic or other facility, you should be aware that it could take well over a year to get all the different kinds of approval you’ll require.
Supply Chain Issues
Every business, including those in the healthcare sector, will be dependent on a supply chain to keep everything ticking. After all, those scrubs and lab coats have to get to you somehow! Due to the high standards and the various other challenges tied to the healthcare industry, it’s essential to understand the obstacles in the way of a smooth supply chain, and do everything you can to circumvent those obstacles. Cost control has been an issue for a while now, and it’s only getting worse with the rising price of fuel and energy. Planning out your supply chain in the first place, and then following it up with good risk management, is also a serious challenge you’ll need to consider. Due to the complex nature of a lot of medical niches, partner and supplier relationship management can often be one of the most challenging aspects of the supply chain.
Lack of Doctors
If you know anyone personally who works in the healthcare sector, then I’m sure you’ve heard at least something about the massive shortage of doctors that’s being experienced in countries all over the world. For a lot of medical start-ups, this causes a massive difficulty due to them not being able to connect their would-be customers with a qualified and experienced doctor. To people in the huge pool of customers, this can make your average medical professional elusive and hard to get a hold of. This, in turn, can limit the amount of choice a patient has in the treatment they receive. Obviously, with something as important as healthcare, this can be pretty frustrating for the people on the receiving end, so make sure you’re taking it into account and not letting anyone suffer your shortage of doctors.
Regardless of which country you look at, possibly the biggest challenge to private healthcare firms is regulation, no matter how promising your idea is. Compliance with data security standards is a big issue these days, especially with the massive risk of cybercrime and patient documents being stolen. Keeping your business within the rules regarding patents is also a particularly challenging part of medical regulations in itself. Businesses in the pharmaceutical industry are under massive amounts of scrutiny and regulation in the western world too, and this is a trend that isn’t going to turn around for the foreseeable future! Whatever kind of medical business you’re thinking of starting, it’s essential that you have some description of legal team who will be able to guide you through the regulatory ins and outs of the medical industry. You may have a background in healthcare, and know a fair amount about some of the regulation, but this is one area where you definitely don’t want to take a blasé attitude!
Irregular Business Model
When you’re looking to start a healthcare business, there’s certain pieces of general business advice you need to take with a pinch of salt, or even disregard completely! For example, in most business models, the person who’s benefiting directly from the product or service is the person who pays for it, and chews through their options before coming to a decision. In the healthcare industry, on the other hand, the person who benefits directly is not necessarily the one paying for it, and are rarely that involved in any real decision making. This can have a massive impact on the way you have to approach marketing and customer relations. Anyone looking to start a healthcare business needs to take the unique business model into account, and how this is going to affect the big decisions they have on the horizon.
Difficult Market Research
The final challenge in the healthcare industry you need to be aware of is various complications surrounding market research. If there’s one thing that dictates the success of a marketing campaign more than anything else, it’s how well you know your customer. Unfortunately, knowing your end user in many healthcare business models is much harder than others. This is due to the huge diversity of the target market you may have to appeal to. From doctors to nurses to pharmacists to the patients themselves, you’re probably going to have to come up with a strategy that effectively sells your product or service to a range of demographics. There have been countless medical businesses that have been set up on the grounds of a great business plan in the past, but due to the product not being scalable or applicable, they’ve folded far sooner than they could have.
There you have just a few of the obstacles which stand in the way of new healthcare enterprises. While starting a business in the medical sector can be both admirable and lucrative, it’s essential for any would-be healthcare entrepreneur to be aware of the challenges ahead.