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Cynthia Church, Chief Strategy Officer

I spend a lot of time talking to digital health companies. Xealth has relationships with nearly 100 who serve various needs across different service lines, solve multiple problems, and serve many stakeholders and populations. 

One thing they all have in common—a true desire to crack open the large provider market and become indispensable to their health system clients. They often ask me how Xealth does it.

As of July 2023, there are 3,085 digital health ventures based in the US, all trying to differentiate in a difficult market. The reality is that it takes more than a great product to get in with the large health systems. 

Here are five of the most common things we hear our health system clients say about their preferred third-party partners.  

  1. They think about the entire care team, not just the doctor

Vendors must consider other care team members, not just the clinicians and doctors – it takes an entire team of people to deliver care, including both clinical and non-clinical people, so if there is something new, what will have to change and who will notice? 

The successful vendors really think through the existing workflows and how the solution can significantly improve care delivery for everyone on the team without adding to their workloads. 

  1. They have both clinical and operational champions

Most health systems operate on decisions that balance the needs of both clinical and operational leaders, with the clinical team responsible for delivering care and the ops team ensuring that their organization has the right tools to provide that care.

A strong third-party solution excites both sides of the house, the clinical and operational leaders. This seems obvious, but it is surprisingly rare. Of course, everyone still needs to focus on the patient experience and outcomes – that is a given – but it’s so much more than that. 

Considering the volume of requests Xealth receives from point solution vendors who have a strong clinical champion asking for introductions to a health system’s IT/IS teams, or the CMIO, the digital health team, and so on, this tells me that clinical and operational silos inside health systems haven’t gone anywhere. Often the silos mean people inside the organization rarely talk to each other, and the vendor can play an important role in uniting these groups. Sometimes at Xealth we introduce colleagues to each other at the same organization — it’s fun and rewarding when we bring like-minded people from the same health system together. 

So think about how you will be helpful to both clinical and operational leaders, and be prepared to have the conversation with “the other side” as soon as you can create the opportunity.

  1. They respect the teams who are delivering care and respond to their requests

Software scalability is about repeatability and standardization. Health care is about every patient being treated as the individual that they are. The culture clash unfolds every day when deploying digital solutions.

Good vendors help their clients find the happy medium and work to create solutions that meet the needs of the most patients possible while acknowledging and trying to accommodate the outliers and specialty use cases as much as possible.

Get comfortable with the ambiguity.

  1. They also appreciate their health system’s IT teams

More than a few health tech vendors claim their solutions are “plug and play” and when a health system’s IT department requests support, the vendor becomes frustrated, wondering what could be so difficult.

Nothing in health care is plug and play, so making this claim to begin with is often a warning sign to a potential customer. In-house IS/IT teams at large health systems are often dealing with technology nightmares – as this is where complexity and innovation meet legacy systems within a highly restrictive data privacy environment, not to mention, where lives are at stake. 

To add to the frustration, health system IS/IT staff are also stressed, burned out, and not enthusiastic about introducing yet another project to their already long backlog of to-dos. As is often the case, those vendors who are the kindest get the best responses. 

  1. They structure the contract to meet the business needs of the health system

While no health system is the same, one commonality I have seen is that nobody likes an unpredictable expense line. Where a per member per month (pmpm) payment model or other variable cost models may work in different industries or sectors, health systems want (and demand) predictability. 

Most vendors settle on a fair fixed cost, agree to renegotiate after a designated time, and focus on delivering value within the contract’s parameters, thus ensuring a winning partnership for both the company and its health system clients. 


Working with health systems is hard, but with the hard work comes immense rewards. While the approach may be more complex than it is in other industries, the work done up front makes it worthwhile in the end.

There is nothing more rewarding than hearing from patients who benefit from your solution, or providers who are grateful for an additional tool in their toolbox.

One of my all-time favorite emails came from a medical assistant who said “Thank you Xealth! I don’t have to stuff envelopes anymore, I can spend more time improving my classes!”

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