SeeSaw Labs

The 5 Mistakes Most Healthcare Startups Make (And How to Avoid Them)

The 5 Mistakes Most Healthcare Startups Make (And How to Avoid Them)


Healthcare product design and development can come with its share of risk – from products failing to meet business or consumer needs, to more stressful problems like falling outside of compliance or regulatory standards.

The good news? You’re not alone. The SeeSaw Labs team has worked with dozens of companies ranging from early-stage start-ups to large global enterprises. We’ve compiled the most critical information you need to know about designing your next healthcare product successfully.

Mistake #1: Building an idea instead of solving a real problem

You will not be able to learn much about your product until it is shipped live for real users to experience. Getting to this point fast is critical.

Oftentimes, new product leaders will expect to receive rave reviews off the bat – leading to an endless search for perfection before pushing it live. You may have great ideas, but it’s important to be realistic, cost-effective, and fail fast.

How to avoid it: In-depth user research, “jobs to be done” analysis

To successfully design a healthcare product and bring it to market, you must be willing to look and get feedback as early in the process as possible. This will not always be (and rarely will be) positive, but it is invaluable in terms of making your product commercially relevant.

Spend time talking directly with users during development phases; ask questions regarding desired features and even reach out via surveys – doing so helps build relationships with customers post launch too, meaning greater chances of success long term once available for full commercial operations.

Mistake #2: Not getting a product MVP up fast enough

When building a healthcare start-up, deciding on which direction to take your product so that it succeeds in the market is typically the most pressing challenge. Without proper guidance and understanding, entrepreneurs can quickly find themselves making costly mistakes that could put the entire project at risk.

How to avoid it: Prototype rapidly with a lean mindset

It is critical that you sprint towards your first MVP with as much speed and grace as possible. In the early stages, focus solely on the need-to-have feature(s) that differentiate your product in the market and make an exceptional experience for the user.

By doing ample research, talking to users, and understanding the competitive landscape, entrepreneurs can ensure they are avoiding costly healthcare startup mistakes and setting themselves up for success.

Mistake #3: Overlooking key industry requirements

Healthcare product development comes with rigorous guidelines that engineers, marketers, and salespeople must uphold. Being meticulous in this regard will pay off down the line. You will need to address these concerns at some point, so getting your product compliant will save you big time.

How to avoid it: Understand interoperability, industry standards

Technology develops rapidly. To be successful in a competitive industry, it’s essential that your team is fully aware of the requirements set forth by regulatory agencies.

To ensure a successful launch, founders should follow these steps:

Research local regulatory rules – Healthcare startups must be aware of the laws governing healthtech products in their locality. It is also important to consider potential changes to existing legislature as technology evolves over time. Healthcare startup mistakes can be avoided by consulting legal advisors.

Get help from experts – Healthcare regulation specialists can help founders navigate through all the paperwork required for an efficient launch process. These services can also ensure continued alignment with set standards after launch day.

Execute & continuously review processes Executing well-thought-out plans is necessary due to the complexity involved. Multiple teams must work together to adhere to protocols stipulated by healthcare organizations such as the FDA.

Mistake #4: Running through cash too fast – with nothing to show

To maintain a cost-efficient approach, it’s important to deploy capital sparingly in the beginning stages so that you can improve as needed. Getting to your first iteration quickly and cheaply will give you the most bang for your buck.

How to avoid it: Waste time trying to get your product perfect the first (or 100th) time

To avoid this mistake, entrepreneurs should have clearly defined goals and milestones they want to reach with their budget.

It’s important for businesses to create financial plans and forecasts which are regularly reviewed against actual performance so corrective action can be taken if needed before major losses occur as a result of irresponsible spending habits.

Having a clear understanding of basic finance principles beyond simple math calculations and ratios used in everyday life activities such as paying bills from paycheck wages received from employers at fulltime jobs within industries unrelated directly connected and supportive services towards meeting company standards outside comfort zones usually explored only under high levels of stress during problem solving situations is essential.

Mistake #5: Not letting users into the product early enough

What problem is your app solving?

What features should it have?

These questions must be answered before committing resources into development, especially if you plan on launching within limited funds and timelines set by investors or industry standards/regulations.

Further research such as testing out existing products in the same space can provide invaluable insight into what works best for users, allowing you to develop more effective feature sets from day one.

How to avoid it: Launch… even if you think you’re not ready!

Getting real-world users into your software or mobile app is the only way to stress-test the ideas generated in the beginning of development. Launch your product even before you think its ready so that when the time comes, you can be confident in it’s success in the market.

Conclusion: Healthcare Technology Comes With It’s Share Of Mishaps

In conclusion, starting a healthcare startup is a challenging but rewarding endeavor. By avoiding common mistakes like failing to conduct proper market research, developing an MVP that’s too broad or too narrow, burning through cash too quickly, not meeting industry regulations, and neglecting the customer experience, early-stage founders can increase their chances of success.

CTO Outsourcing 101: When, Who, and How to Hire An Outsourced CTO

Whether you’re a startup or an established business, the need for an experienced technology leader is essential for success. CTO outsourcing is an increasingly popular solution for many companies who don’t have the resources to hire and retain an in-house CTO. This article provides an overview of the basics of CTO outsourcing by addressing questions such as when to outsource, who to hire, and how to find the right outsourced CTO.

What is CTO Outsourcing?

CTO outsourcing has been popularized mostly within the tech industry. It involves hiring a third-party technology specialist to fill your organization’s Chief Technology Officer role. An outsourced CTO provides the same services as an internal CTO, but with less overhead and other associated costs.

An outsourced CTO will be able to help you with:

  • Creating technology roadmaps
  • Auditing current systems and tools
  • Diagnosing errors, bugs, and inefficiencies
  • Leading product design & development teams
  • Owning your strategy for driving ROI from technology

A successful relationship with an outsourced CTO requires clear communication between both parties about project goals and objectives from the start.

When to Outsource a CTO

When it comes to managing the tech operations of a business, having an experienced Chief Technology Officer (CTO) on board is essential. A CTO is responsible for developing and executing the long-term technology strategy of a company, making them a crucial part of any successful organization. With the increasing demand for technical expertise in today’s fast-paced digital world, many businesses are wondering when it is appropriate to outsource their CTO roles.

When considering whether or not to outsource a CTO there are several factors to consider. For instance, if your project requires specific technical know-how that you don’t have in house, outsourcing may be necessary in order to ensure that your project meets its goals and deadlines.

Who to Hire as an Outsourced CTO

Any business that is looking for a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) should consider outsourcing the position to a highly-competent and experienced individual. An Outsourced CTO provides businesses with access to talented professionals who have expertise in both technology and management. By outsourcing this key role, businesses can benefit from a CTO without having to hire full-time employees or manage their own IT infrastructure.

The ideal candidate for owning and driving your technology strategy will have to be some with a high degree of technical experience, industry competence, and leadership abilities like integrity, people management, and stakeholder engagement.

An outsourced CTO may have a variety of experiences, but the most common (and impactful) ones come from the very-same role in-house. Or something similar. Common examples include:

  • Chief Technology Officer
  • Chief Product Officer
  • Head of Engineering
  • Developer with Business Savvy
  • Leaders in Product Management

How to Find an Outsourced CTO

Finding a CTO for your business can be daunting. After all, the Chief Technology Officer is responsible for ensuring that your company has the most up-to-date technology and implements cutting edge solutions in order to stay competitive. It’s important to find someone who not only has the right technical skills, but also meshes well with your existing team. 

The best way to find an outsourced CTO is typically by looking through your current network. Think about past colleagues you’ve worked with, agencies and vendors that had great talent, or a particular company in your industry that may be gearing up for turnover. 

Other common places to find an Outsourced CTO include:

  • Custom software development firms
  • Product design and development firms
  • Individual consultants and contractors online
  • Freelance marketplaces like UpWork
  • Job seekers on LinkedIn, Indeed, and more

Benefits of Outsourcing CTOs

Outsourcing a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) can provide a variety of benefits to businesses. It significantly reduces the cost of traditional hiring practices, helps companies access experienced talent from around the world, and allows businesses to focus their efforts on core competencies without having to invest in things like recruiting, onboarding and training for new technology employees. 

  1. The primary benefit of outsourcing a CTO is cost savings. Companies can save on long-term recruitment costs associated with traditional hiring methods as well as benefit from the lower hourly rate offered by outsourced professionals compared to an in-house hire. Additionally, they avoid potential hidden costs associated with permanent hires such as sick days or administrative overhead expenses related to insurance coverage or vacation pay.
  2. Another valuable benefit is the wide variety of talent that outsourcing allows. When you can accept working arrangements from virtually anybody across the world, especially on a partial-time commitment, it significantly increases your talent pool. 
  3. One obvious benefit is the extra (wo)manpower. Outsourced CTOs provide valuable services such as developing technology strategies, understanding customer needs and requirements, and creating the necessary systems needed to support their goals. 
  4. They help you stay up to date. CTOs help companies stay current on industry trends and technologies, ensuring they are up-to-date with the latest advancements in their field.

Challenges of Outsourcing CTOs

As more and more companies are choosing to outsource their Chief Technology Officers (CTO), there is a growing awareness of the challenges associated with this decision. For many organizations, hiring a CTO from outside their organization can be an intimidating prospect as it requires significant trust and understanding of the technology landscape. However, when done correctly, outsourcing can be beneficial for both parties, providing access to new skills and ideas that may not have existed in-house.

Organizations need to carefully consider all of the potential issues when deciding whether or not outsourcing is right for them. 

Most importantly, they must ensure that the CTO hired from outside is well suited to their particular needs; any misalignment between expectations and abilities could result in costly delays or substandard solutions.

Conclusion: Considerations for Hiring an Outsourced CTO

In conclusion, hiring an outsourced CTO can be invaluable to a business looking to remain competitive in the ever-evolving technology landscape. It is important to understand the scope of the project, select a CTO with extensive experience and the necessary industry knowledge, and ensure they have the right team and resources to support them. With a bit of research and due diligence, businesses can find an experienced CTO who can help drive their digital transformation goals.

The Do’s & Don’ts of Healthcare Product Design & Development

What is Healthcare Interoperability?

Healthcare interoperability refers to the ability of two or more healthcare systems to share information with each other so that they can interpret and use it. The “systems” can be medical devices, computer software, mobile apps, and more. The term was made popular during the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009, which was the first attempt by the US government to outline expectations for health information technology (HIT) to electronically exchange data.

Why is healthcare interoperability important?

Imagine if pharmacists and doctors were unable to share critical patient information between their offices to make a timely treatment decision – that’s one of the many reasons healthcare interoperability is important. Potentially life-threatening scenarios aside, healthcare interoperability has also worked wonders in terms of making the industry more consumer-friendly and convenient.  Take blood sugar monitors for example – diabetes patients can simply prick their fingers and have their blood compared against the device’s database. No need to go to the doctor’s office or pay for expensive treatments.  The convenience that healthcare interoperability allows can also be illustrated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Due to evolutions in healthcare systems, inflicted patients were able to share physical symptoms and parameters via the cloud to reduce the spread.

What are the benefits of healthcare interoperability?

While the benefits of healthcare interoperability are too immense to fit in one article, we will mention some of the most notable ones revolving around efficiency, accuracy, privacy, and more. Some key benefits of healthcare interoperability are that it:

  • Increases the organization’s operating efficiency
  • Reduces redundancy in data entry and management
  • Prevents costly mistakes: medication errors, etc.
  • Promotes consumer involvement
  • Speeds up and simplifies research
  • Improves digital medicine by facilitating big data analysis
  • Adds financial incentives through Meaningful Use

Healthcare Interoperability Standards

There are five types of standards associated with healthcare interoperability:

  • Terminology standards
  • Content standards
  • Transport standards
  • Identifier standards
  • Privacy and security standards

Terminology standards in interoperability are exactly what they sound like: guidelines surrounding the vocabulary, codes, and classifications that can be used through the process of connecting two systems. Content standards differ because they deal with the data inside of the document during the information exchange – not the ways in which the terminology is used.  Transport standards refer to how the message or document is formatted during the exchange. For example, Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) allows for the transfer of medical images to be passed between systems. Identifier standards simply revolve around how a patient or medical staff personnel can be identified within the system. Privacy standards aim to protect an individual’s (or organization’s) right to determine whether, what, when, by whom and for what purpose their personal health information is collected, accessed, used or disclosed. Security standards define a set of administrative, physical and technical actions to protect the confidentiality, availability and integrity of health information.

Healthcare Interoperability Levels

Healthcare interoperability is broken down into 4 levels: foundational, structural, semantic, and organizational. These levels are differentiated by their function and purpose – whether to connect the systems, organize the data, interpret the data, or the processes for how interoperability is used with other distinctions in the organization.


The foundational level of interoperability establishes the connection between two healthcare systems. Without it, healthcare systems would not be able to communicate with each other in the first place. Foundational interoperability allows it all to take place, but further levels of interoperability are required to process, gather insights, and ultimately gain value out of the connection.


Structural interoperability is the level that determines how the data will be shared from one system to another. It defines the format that must be used in order for the two systems to make use of each other’s data. Once the structural requirements have been defined, the systems can understand the data being shared, and the user can, too.


The semantic level of interoperability is where healthcare-specific concepts are exchanged and interpreted between systems. It ensures that medical terminology, naming conventions, etc. can be shared and used in a way that works. For example, common resources at the semantic level are HGNC and SNOMED. HGNC is the nomenclature for genes and SNOMED is a general-purpose language with over three hundred thousand medical concepts.


The organizational level is how healthcare interoperability is used at the highest level – through business processes, workflows, and standard operating procedures. Inputs from legal, social, and organizational components are required to ensure proper integration across the whole ecosystem.

Healthcare Interoperability Challenges

Budget constraints

As with most technological advancements, there is a cost that comes with adapting to healthcare interoperability. And while we know the benefits far outweigh the alternatives, investing in the necessary people, tools, and education to make it work is not always feasible. Healthcare technology is expensive, and outdated or struggling organizations may not be able to afford to get started.  Improving interoperability requires strong coordination between different organizations, regulators, and leaders as well as coordination within organizations. Regulators provide standards and rules for healthcare organizations to follow but organizations that want to be proactive about interoperability should consider creating a dedicated interoperability strategy and make interoperability planning a priority.

Outdated systems

This tends to go hand-in-hand with budget constraints, as organizations with outdated technology may have to invest even more to bring their tech stack up to speed. For example – they will have to modernize their technology before connecting their data. Once they have new systems in place, they will still have to invest it properly aligning with the standards of healthcare interoperability – so it can feel like a double whammy. Not all organizations have the financial or technical resources they need to invest in the technical resources needed to build a truly interoperable system. There may be some government grants available to update health records systems, so organizations should check to see if they’re eligible. Many cloud vendors also offer pay-as-you-go payment models that could make technical expenses more affordable and predictable.

Organization & coordination

It takes a village to build and adopt a modern way of managing your healthcare systems. Leadership, faculty, and patients must all work together to meet the requirements of regulatory agencies, act in accordance with the law, and ensure that all parties are comfortable handling their sensitive healthcare data.

Wide range of needs

There is a large volume of healthcare organizations that provide different medical services and require different data-sharing protocols. Organizations may use different internal and external systems than their counterparts based on their specific needs and the volume of patients they serve. This can lead to increased complexity when adopting a more integrated approach.

Healthcare Interoperability Resources

Health Information Exchange (HIE) Health information exchange, or HIE, allows us to move clinical information between two or more healthcare systems in a way that retains the meaning and use of the information. In doing so, HIE makes it faster, safer, simple, and more effective to transfer this information between entities. Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) was created by Health Level Seven International (HL7) and is a “standard describing data formats and elements and an application programming interface for exchanging electronic health records.” Simply put, FHIR was created to make it easier to transfer healthcare data between systems.  FHIR organizes and structures data and provides guidelines for how they should be organized and interpreted by other computer systems and applications.  See the whole list of interoperability standards and resources here.

A List of Healthcare Interoperability Standards