4 Ways to Overcome Health Care Technology Barriers & Drive Product Adoption

For Entrepreneurs UPMC Enterprises

When it comes to leveraging new software in a health care environment, winning over customers is a struggle founders know all too well. Read four ways you can overcome barriers and drive adoption of your product or service in the process.

In many ways, software has made our lives easier. If you have a workflow challenge, a communication breakdown, or you simply would like to have your lunch delivered to your door, there is an app or a software solution available to assist you. Health care technology is a booming business these days, and there are plenty of ways that software can improve the industry.

When it comes to developing and selling solutions, one of the most common challenges that startups run into is changing the minds of potential customers to adopt its product over other alternatives. Before we can share how to overcome barriers in the health care industry, we need to examine what those barriers are.


As humans, we’re often prone to take the path of least resistance because change typically requires effort. For example, if a clinician has always taken notes with paper and pencil, why would they go through the effort of reinventing the wheel, even if a new digital clinician note software claims to be more efficient? When you go to the grocery store, why do you typically stick to one brand? It requires more work on your end to figure out which product or brand would be better. The same concept applies to products and solutions within the health care industry. Sometimes the default system or process is just easier.


Attachment is a powerful barrier, and it can be far more personal than simply sticking with the status quo because it’s easy. When a product, service, process, or initiative is intertwined with the people who developed, delivered, or championed it, there could be feelings of abandonment or disrespect when a decision is made to try something new. This can prevent the adoption of new technology, especially in smaller organizations.


A long-used process or system often feels safe. It may not be perfect, but at least we know about its drawbacks and workarounds. The new, shiny, and technically advanced things can feel risky. Could it be better than the way we have been doing things? Yes. Could it be worse? Also, yes. The uncertainty of new can lead us to avoid taking the risk.

Now that we understand some common barriers to entry and product adoption, let’s look at four ways founders, salespeople, and marketers can overcome them.

1. Anticipate barriers and come prepared

Founders should always anticipate real or perceived barriers brought on by their solution and prepare honest and thorough answers for potential customers. For example, let’s say your solution is a data management platform. Think through some common barriers you might encounter. What data does your company require? How do you propose accessing their data? How will you ensure security of the data for their health system?

The fewer hurdles the health system must jump through to do this integration, the higher your chances of success. Also, by having prepared for these barriers, you take the onus off the decision maker to figure out how your solution is even viable.

2. Explain the solution, not just the product

If too much emphasis is placed on the product, prospective customers may fail to see all the problems that your solution solves. A resource-strapped health care system is not looking to buy a product – they are seeking to invest in a solution to a problem. If you can clearly demonstrate how a health system will benefit from your solution using real data and testimonials, you will have made great progress towards signing a customer.

It is critical that everyone in a startup know exactly what they are selling and to whom. Further, being able to address pain points and recognizing how your solution differs from a prospect’s current process or product will help to de-risk the idea of adopting something new.

It’s not really until you understand the problem that you can begin to determine the appropriate solution. Think about doctors. They don’t say, “Let me put a cast on your arm.” They say, “Let me understand if the arm is broken, and if it is, I can prescribe a solution.”

3. Focus on your audience

Audiences can vary from department to department and across seniority levels. Addressing the problem of a middle-manager will not resonate with the CEO or other decision makers unless you can show how it affects them.

Make time to probe deeper into the problem your audience is facing and try to examine things from various perspectives. Have they tried to change things? What was the result? Why haven’t things changed already? What are their barriers?

4. Focus on the ROI

Think about the reasons why your customer is considering switching over to your software system or product. Hopefully, the answer is because your solution:

A.) Is solving a painful enough problem that they will be willing to change and willing to pay for it.

b.) Will save them money or time eventually, even if it will cost them more time and effort in the near term.

In a normal transaction, customers incur a cost (time, money, or effort) before they see any real benefit. Make it easy for your audience to experience the value of the offering and show them how making the near-term investment will set them up for long-term success.

Focus on how you generate and quantify value: Are you saving the system money? Are you generating additional revenue for the system? Are you increasing operational efficiency?

One notch at a time

Across the internet there are thousands of frameworks, real-world examples, and thought-provoking tactics, but kicking off the change-making process can still feel tough. If you’re a founder or a startup leader, it’s important to remember that change doesn’t need to happen overnight. 

Health systems are often large, complex organizations with multiple layers and many stakeholders. Pitching an immediate and substantial change will often result in a resounding no from the prospective buyer. Help the buyer understand some of the incremental changes that can be made over time to move towards the end goal of fully implementing your solution and realizing the value that you have promised.

What are some ways your company overcomes barriers? Let us know on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Are you a startup founder or entrepreneur with a great idea? We’d love to hear about it. Click here to get in touch.

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