During this session, leaders from Covera Health and Nuance Communications provided insights into their companies’ collaboration to improve patient outcomes and operational efficiency through innovative technology solutions. The panelists also shared their perspectives on what makes for a successful collaboration in digital health. The discussion shed light on broader trends surrounding novel strategic partnerships between digital health companies that are changing healthcare delivery and accelerating value-based care.
Jacques Gilbert, Vice President, Healthcare Strategy, Partnerships and M&A, Nuance Communications
Ron Vianu, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Covera Health
Moderator: Jiayan Chen, Partner, McDermott Will & Emer
Top takeaways included:
Covera and Nuance decided to partner because they were aligned on solving the same problem: longstanding challenges in driving quality in radiology care and aligning incentives among payor and provider stakeholders. The collaboration made particular sense because each company has a unique lens and business model in the space, with Covera building offerings for payors and Nuance interfacing with radiology providers. Both companies are also highly technologically driven, committed to advancing healthcare quality through artificial intelligence (AI) and deriving insights through data.
While “collaboration” and “partnership” are used quite liberally in the digital health context, Covera and Nuance have a truly integrated partnership that requires alignment, shared vision, tenacity and a willingness to overcome challenges. This is not a vendor/provider relationship or merely a cross-selling or cross-promotion arrangement. Each party brings a unique set of tools, strengths and relationships to the table, whether it is dexterity in the managed care space or a wide network of integrated technology and data platforms used by providers. Overcoming challenges in this kind of partnership requires the teams—at even the highest levels—to align around a common goal and a belief that they can accomplish the goal. When they run into areas of conflict, that fundamental alignment allows them to move forward and find solutions.
Some of the biggest barriers for technology-driven partnerships can come from each team’s desire to build and own the technology. Overcoming these barriers requires constant focus on the collective goals of the partnership and for each party to engage in ongoing internal reflection and calibration.
There can be particular challenges when one party is a startup and the other is an established, larger company. For a startup, it can be difficult to scale the company while simultaneously collaborating with a much larger company that, for its part, must manage more extensive and varied strategic goals. In turn, larger companies often must be sensitive to the fact that a startup partner can be built to move quickly and is positioning itself for growth and potential future acquisition. To better navigate these differences, the larger company could consider carving innovation opportunities out of its core business and staffing it with people who understand how startups operate.
There’s an increasing recognition that the path to success is through partnerships. For companies looking to enter partnerships, understanding each party’s incentives is crucial. This concept goes beyond the partnering companies and includes other stakeholders invested in the relationship, such as payors, employers, health systems and providers. Partners also must understand that each of these other stakeholders may have different incentives, and respond accordingly.