The Upsides Of Betting On Early-Stage IT Startups

Tom Sullivan | Medical Practice Insider | September 29, 2014

When Aetna chief information security officer Jim Routh became the first customer, literally, to buy email authentication software from a startup, that move was part of what he described as “a complete shift in thinking about purchasing products.”  The old “no one gets fired for buying IBM” mentality of poring through analyst reports, considering market share numbers, then opting for name-brand IT is perhaps a safer tactic to buying products and services — but the risk inherent to Aetna’s more modern post-Internet bubble approach can have big payoffs.  Lest that appear to be the sort of risk that big companies such as Aetna can more easily afford to take than small and midsize medical practices, consider the upsides Routh is looking at: products that are both less expensive and more innovative.

There is some evidence that the first-mover philosophy is gaining purchase as healthcare continues its widespread industrialization, albeit perhaps slowly.  “There is a correlation between the early adoption of new technologies and better business outcomes.” So begins a Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report, sponsored by Verizon. “IT Pioneers — companies that believe strongly in the benefits of adopting new technologies and that pursue first-mover advantage — are more likely to lead in both revenue and market position. They adapt more easily to new ways of doing business and are transforming all aspects of their businesses faster than other companies.”

HBR breaks the business world into 3 distinct IT types: Those aforementioned Pioneers, the “Followers” and then the “Cautious.”  Of the 672 participants, HBR explained that 11 percent identified as working in healthcare and a chart depicting how many of each type reside in healthcare showed a reasonably even split among all three...