Jim O'Donoghue: How Providers Should Choose Their Tech Partners

"Really, technologists aren't going to be able to figure out what's going to work best for patients,” he said.

When he spoke with Healthcare Analytics News™ during the Digital Pharma East conference in Philadelphia, Jim O'Donoghue had advice for both tech companies and the healthcare entities that may choose to work with them: don’t underestimate the complexity of healthcare.

“You need to understand, if you're looking to build a global business, that health economies around the world are different,” the S3 Connected Health vice president said. “How reimbursement works is different. Even medical practice around the world is quite different, so if you're trying to build something that's going to be scalable you need to think ‘How am I going to build it in a way that it's going to be highly configurable?’”

He underscored the point that healthtech is not just about technology, but about people. Providers looking to partner with tech companies to develop and provide services for patients need to vet the companies accordingly.

“I'd be looking for a team that had multidisciplinary capability. I'd be looking for a team that had a track record of understanding patients and designing patient services, and I'd be looking for a team and a vendor who understood the regulatory environment,” O’Donoghue said. Another important understanding to have is of the regulatory environment in a given region, since many of the technologies at hand may need to seek medical device designation.

Overall, understanding is key, and the most important challenge that he mentioned was recognizing the complexity of each individual patient and collaborating to assist them. Tech professionals alone should not be expected to develop useful services for patients, he believes.

“It's a multi-stakeholder engagement. The last thing you want is a bunch of technologists in a room deciding ‘We understand this very patient, now let's send them this information or give them this kind of support,’ because really technologists aren't going to be able to figure out what's going to work best for patients,” he said.

“They need to embrace the idea that healthcare is complex, it requires a broader understanding of multiple disciplines.”