How to Scale a Healthcare AI Solution: Go-to-Market Approaches

In this week’s episode of the Healthtech Marketing Show, I delve into the GTM strategies employed by two exciting Healthcare AI startups. My interviews with two up-and-coming star CEOs, Matt Ko and David Zakariaie, demonstrate two very different GTM approaches. 

Personal Journeys: Turning Challenges into Opportunities

In today’s rapidly evolving healthcare industry, artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming how we approach patient care, diagnostics, and clinical workflows. Two inspiring entrepreneurs, David Zakariaie, CEO and founder of Senseye, and Matt Ko, President, COO, and co-founder of DeepScribe, have embarked on remarkable journeys to bring their innovative AI solutions to the healthcare market. Their stories shed light on the challenges, strategies, and lessons learned in navigating the complex go-to-market landscape for healthcare AI.

David Zakariaie’s journey began with a personal struggle with mental health challenges and a deep-rooted connection to the field through his mother’s work as a psychologist. Recognizing the lack of objective measurements and diagnostics in mental health, David set out to build Senseye, a pioneering diagnostic and severity monitoring platform. What started as a science fair project to develop sophisticated eye-tracking technology using normal video cameras evolved into a mission to revolutionize mental health care.

Similarly, Matt Ko’s path was shaped by his experience as a care coordinator for his mother during her battle with breast cancer. Witnessing firsthand the communication barriers and the overwhelming administrative burden placed on physicians, Matt co-founded DeepScribe with his partner, Akilesh Bapu. Leveraging his co-founder’s expertise in natural language processing, they developed an ambient AI technology capable of intelligently listening to patient-physician conversations, extracting clinically relevant information, and automatically generating clinical notes. DeepScribe aimed to alleviate physician burnout and restore the joy of practicing medicine.

Pivoting to Address Business and Operational Challenges

Both David and Matt’s stories highlight a common thread: the drive to solve a patient problem that resonated with them personally. However, they quickly realized that to succeed in the healthcare industry, they needed to pivot their solutions to address clear business and operational challenges. This strategic shift allowed them to gain traction and demonstrate the value of their AI technologies to healthcare providers and stakeholders.

Commercializing Early and Expanding Strategically

One of the key go-to-market approaches employed by DeepScribe was to commercialize early by targeting smaller physician practices. By focusing on this market segment, they were able to generate revenue and gather valuable feedback while continuing to refine their product. This approach allowed them to build a robust enterprise solution to handle the complexities and edge cases encountered when deploying to larger health systems. DeepScribe expanded its reach to enterprise customers as it gained momentum, leveraging its experience and proven track record.

Navigating Regulatory Landscapes and Pursuing Partnerships

For Senseye, the path to commercialization involved navigating the regulatory landscape and pursuing FDA approval for their AI diagnostic tool. While this process restricts commercial sales until approval is granted, David and his team have found innovative ways to generate data and demonstrate the efficacy of their solution. They engage in paid pilot studies and collaborate with pharmaceutical companies on clinical trials, utilizing Senseye as a secondary or exploratory endpoint. These partnerships not only provide revenue streams but also help validate the technology and establish credibility in the market.

Seamless Integration into Existing Healthcare Workflows

Both Senseye and DeepScribe recognized the importance of seamlessly integrating their AI solutions into existing healthcare workflows. Instead of requiring providers to adopt new systems or change their behavior, they focused on integrating into widely used telehealth platforms and electronic health record (EHR) systems. By becoming a plug-in or an app within an app, healthcare professionals can easily access and utilize their solutions, minimizing disruption and increasing adoption.

Partner-Focused Go-to-Market Strategy

Senseye’s go-to-market strategy involves partnering with telehealth vendors and payer-owned provider groups that aggregate mental health patients. By integrating their diagnostic tool into these platforms, they can reach a large user base without requiring extensive individual sales efforts. This partner-focused approach allows Senseye to leverage the existing relationships and patient populations of its partners, accelerating its market penetration.

Inbound Digital Marketing and Thought Leadership

DeepScribe, on the other hand, has seen remarkable success through inbound digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. By focusing on relevant keywords and establishing thought leadership in the clinical documentation space, they have captured the attention of healthcare providers actively searching for solutions to their problems. Their strong online presence and domain authority have driven significant growth, with inbound leads accounting for a substantial portion of their customer acquisition.

Evolving Go-to-Market Approaches for Enterprise Customers

As DeepScribe matured and set its sights on enterprise customers, they recognized the need to evolve their go-to-market approach. While inbound marketing remains crucial to their strategy, they have also embraced targeted account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns. By proactively identifying and pursuing ideal customer profiles, they can tailor their messaging and value proposition to enterprise healthcare organizations’ specific needs and challenges. This shift has required adapting their marketing content strategy and sales team composition to engage with decision-makers at the enterprise level effectively.

Transparency and Collaboration in the Healthcare AI Community

Both David and Matt emphasize the importance of being open and transparent about their solutions and the problems they aim to solve. In retrospect, Matt believes that being more forthcoming about DeepScribe’s technology and journey could have fostered greater awareness and collaboration earlier within the industry. He recognizes that truly innovative solutions are not easily replicable, and the real challenge lies in execution. By sharing their story and vision openly, healthcare AI startups can build credibility, attract valuable partnerships, and contribute to the overall advancement of the industry.

Advice for Aspiring Healthcare AI Entrepreneurs

When asked about the advice they would give to their younger selves or aspiring entrepreneurs, David and Matt offer profound insights.

David emphasizes the importance of having unwavering belief in the idea and its potential impact on the world. He stresses that the journey of building a healthcare AI startup is incredibly challenging, and entrepreneurs must be prepared for the toll it takes on their sanity and personal lives. However, if the conviction in the solution is strong enough, it will motivate to overcome the obstacles and persist in bringing the vision to life.

Matt, on the other hand, reflects on the value of “building in the wild” and being more open about the startup’s journey. He acknowledges that while protecting intellectual property is important, being overly cautious can hinder potential collaborations and partnerships. By sharing their progress, challenges, and successes, startups can foster trust, attract support, and contribute to the collective knowledge and innovation within the healthcare AI community.

Lessons for Healthcare AI Entrepreneurs

In conclusion, the go-to-market landscape for healthcare AI solutions is complex and multifaceted. David Zakariaie and Matt Ko’s experiences with Senseye and DeepScribe highlight the importance of identifying a personal motivation, solving a clear business problem, and adapting go-to-market strategies to the unique challenges of the healthcare industry. Whether it’s pursuing FDA approval, integrating into existing workflows, partnering with aggregators, leveraging inbound marketing, or embracing transparency, each startup must find its own path to success.

As the healthcare AI market continues to evolve, entrepreneurs can draw inspiration from the stories of David and Matt. By staying true to their mission, being open to pivots, and navigating the regulatory and commercial landscapes with agility, startups can make a meaningful impact on patient care and the future of healthcare. The journey may be arduous, but with unwavering belief, strategic execution, and a willingness to learn and adapt, healthcare AI entrepreneurs can transform their visions into reality and revolutionize the industry for the better.

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Posted by Adam Turinas
Posted in AI and Marketing, Healthtech Marketing Show, Market Entry - Launching a Healthcare Business on March 11, 2024

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About the Author Adam Turinas

Hi, I am Adam Turinas, Healthlaunchpad's founder. I am passionate about helping healthtech firms succeed through better sales and marketing. I have hard-earned experience in healthcare technolgy as I started two healthcare businesses in the US, the first with zero healthcare experience. We sold the second business to a strategic buyer seven years later. Over 9 years building a healhtech businesses, I have learned how to sell and market effectively to healthcare organizations. Prior to this, I spent two decades in digital marketing across healthcare and other consumer industries where I sold over $100 million in products and services to corporations and healthcare orgs. I would love to talk with you. You can book a call with me on the right hand side. Best Adam (This is page 0 of many)