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Healthcare Startups: Should You Work For One?

Healthcare technology is on the rise; you see it in wearable devices, mobile apps, and even in how you find and schedule doctor’s appointments. And every day, new healthcare startups are popping up to address the unique challenges within the healthcare system, helping to deliver better care to patients around the world. “It’s beyond the growth of telemedicine,” says Katie Niekrash, a Vice President at ES Healthcare, a division of The Execu|Search Group.  “Healthcare startups are altering the healthcare landscape by developing solutions with artificial intelligence, genomics and genetic testing, as well as population health management. These companies are here to challenge the status quo in our healthcare system, and they’re offering a wide range of opportunities for healthcare professionals in the process.”

For those healthcare professionals who are looking for a less traditional role, considering an opportunity at a healthcare startup could not only mean a big shift in your career, but it could also mean being a part of a team of disrupters who share the goal of improving the healthcare system—not just working within it. “New York City is second only to San Francisco in healthcare startups,” explains Katie. “This means that professionals in New York have ample opportunities to find an exciting new role in a rapidly changing space.” While the concept is exciting, it’s important to ask if a career shift like this would be right for you. To start, ask yourself the following questions:

Are you tech-savvy?

While understanding EMR (Electronic Medical Records) systems like EPIC is becoming standard for healthcare professionals, joining these healthcare startups will likely require a higher level of understanding of technology. “These companies use complex programs and algorithms, hiring engineers and data scientists in addition to healthcare professionals to build a premium product or service,” says Katie. “While you obviously wouldn’t be expected to understand the technology side in-depth, you’ll need to be able to effectively communicate between teams and have a broad understanding of the technology at play. This means that you can set yourself apart from the competition by proving that you have a strong desire to learn—and learn quickly.”

Do you believe in what the company is doing?

These healthcare startups are being created because they see vulnerabilities and challenges in our current healthcare system, where critical consumer needs are not being met. “They’re breaking rules, they’re cutting out middlemen, and they’re finding solutions no one has ever tried before,” explains Katie. “As a result, they’re looking for employees who truly believe that what they are doing will improve healthcare and wellness for people.”

In doing so, these companies are not looking for people who will stop and say, “But this is the way it’s always been done.” They are looking for people who will ask, “Has anyone tried doing it this way before?” For healthcare professionals who may be frustrated with the stagnancy of the healthcare system, pursuing a new opportunity with a healthcare startup can be a revitalizing experience.

Are you flexible?

While a healthcare professional working in a facility often has a more defined role, this is not the case in a startup environment. Startups rely on teamwork to solve problems and complete tasks with what is usually a small team. “In any startup, most employees wear several hats, and you may be expected to do work that is not necessarily defined in your role,” explains Katie. “This can be a frustrating change for some professionals who are used to more structure in their day. On the other hand, many who are used to the rigidity of a more traditional healthcare role will find the freedom of defining their role very rewarding.”

Additionally, Katie reminds professionals that startups often can’t offer as much compensation as larger organizations. “These companies are typically dealing with limited funding in their initial years. As a result, they can’t always offer top dollar for each new hire,” Katie says. “However, they often compensate with great perks and equity offers that will grow over time as the company grows.”

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