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Ari Tulla: Why digital health entrepreneurs shouldn’t use the word “pilot”

Ari Tulla: Why digital health entrepreneurs shouldn’t use the word “pilot”

We recently sat down with  Ari Tulla, CEO and Founder of  BetterDoctor, at their office in San Francisco’s SOMA district. Here is a transcript from why Ari thinks digital entrepreneurs should stop using the word "pilot". You can  watch the entire interview here.




Ari Tulla: Why Digital Health Entrepreneurs Shouldn’t Use the Word “Pilot”

Hoala Greevy: I understand that when it comes to healthcare and digital health startups, you don't like the word "pilot". Why is that and is there a better word for digital health entrepreneurs to focus in on? Ari Tulla: I think this is specific for many of us who started healthcare companies in the B2C realm, going to consumers and trying to do something for them. And often many of them have been moving into B2B [or] B2E, working with the big enterprise companies. In healthcare, the money is in three buckets: it's in health plans, health insurance companies; it's in the hospitals and the providers; and it is in the pharma. Those are the ones that own 80% of the 3 trillion dollars today that we spend every year. So you have to go there and shake those trees to make money. The money is not coming from the consumers because they don't pay anything directly. So you basically have to go to the big companies, and when you work with these big companies – we have experienced this a little bit and we have seen, and I have seen, many horror stories on the idea of "Hey, let's do a pilot." Every big organization has an innovation team, and these innovation teams, they are there to work with the startups, with the new entrants and do small tests. But very rarely those ideas and those early tests are leading into full implementations. So the "pilot", it sounds like a doom interval from the beginning. So you can do 100 pilots that might lead nothing in the end. So I try to just use the vocabulary and say, "Let's go from pilot and talk about proof of concept." If we already have something that works, let's do a small implementation in some market. Let's not do a pilot. Pilot means, "Let's just do something little and try it, and it might not work." Hoala Greevy: Man, that's a good takeaway. I'm sure people are going to want to hear about that.


BetterDoctor helps patients find the right doctors when they need them. It starts with helping health plans, provider groups, health care systems and health start up companies get high quality data. They build tools to bring trust, confidence, and transparency to the process of finding a doctor.
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