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It's okay to work in healthcare AND be a tech entrepreneur


Hannah Tilstone

Digital Health Startup Consultant

Updated 21 April 22



In the hectic world of startups, it is very easy to assume that founders all share a common interest: a passion for business and a desire to make money. However, if you look at the digital health industry, it appears that founders are caught in a catch-22 scenario. They want to care for their patients, but they do not want to get caught up in the intricacies of a money making business. In some cases, founders in digital health are not as driven by the prospects of a profitable business compared to others in the startup industry, but that’s okay.


At Nova, our approach to creating a successful startup is by being as lean as we can possibly be. This means doing the minimum for the maximum benefit. In order to achieve this, we use tools such as the Lean Canvas, the one-page business model. In the Lean Canvas, revenue streams are one of the key things you’ll need to consider. As whether you like to acknowledge it or not, money will always be part of starting a business


Since the NHS began, there has been a stigma that those who are truly invested in free healthcare simply cannot be business-minded. In 2015, Forbes magazine released an article ‘Why All Doctors Should Be Entrepreneurs’ where Kevin Williams, (Founder and Managing Director of Claim Resolutions) had an interesting viewpoint on healthcare professionals and their attitudes towards starting up businesses: “Doctors just want to care for their patients, without the distractions of running a business”.


It’s time to break this stigma and encourage healthcare professionals to start healthcare businesses. Those who specialise in healthcare and pursue a business in digital health should be applauded. Doctors experience the difficulties of working in the NHS everyday, they’re at the heart of healthcare. They know what problems could be improved through digital innovation and the development of tech startups.


Amongst many qualities, a founder should feel confident in starting a business that will make a difference. They should embrace the business-minded mentality. At Nova, we have some founders where being an entrepreneur doesn’t come so naturally, however, our process helps them grow into a successful business owners. Remember, the best people that start businesses are the ones who experience the problem the most.


In July, we saw the NHS turn 70 and with people living longer, innovation in healthcare is crucial. For this to happen, healthtech startups need to collate revenue in order to scale into successful businesses, this does not mean a startup needs to make millions overnight, things grow over time.


It is important to see revenue and cost structure as a positive. Your startup is an investment in the NHS and the money spent on getting it going could save the healthcare industry thousands or even millions in the future. Could your startup improve the efficiency of patient care, or save doctors time so they can spend more on the things that matter? In theory, the NHS needs healthcare startups to succeed so it can relish in innovation.


Imagine this, you have yourself bought a new car, would you expect to drive you from A to B without using fuel? No. So why would anyone expect a product to get from B2B or B2C without making money? Revenue is the fuel of business, it may sound obvious, but you have to make money and that is expected. So take full advantage and let the people who want to invest in your startup do just that.


If you have a solid business model, you’re much more likely to succeed and make a difference in the industry you’ve set out to change. Whether your startup is in healthcare or not, revenue will always be an important part of a business and should be acknowledged. So, embrace every aspect of making your startup become successful.




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