The healthcare industry is an enormous ecosystem – one that encompasses healthcare providers, physicians, technology providers, services companies, social media platforms, and a host of other businesses – including SIM Partners – that are either directly in the industry or in an adjacent business. And the ecosystem is constantly changing. How many people saw Apple as a healthcare force to be reckoned with at the outset of the 21st Century? And yet Apple is an integral partner of the ecosystem.

At the center of the ecosystem are the providers themselves, those responsible for giving care. I sometimes wonder how those healthcare providers manage this complex web of services and technologies — each of which provides pieces of what’s needed, but certainly not everything. And how do healthcare providers set the right expectation for an ecosystem player who provides a specialized service? SIM Partners, for example, helps healthcare providers manage their operations more effectively with technology, business intelligence, and consulting. We focus on location marketing. But we don’t do everything.

I think healthcare providers should expect each player in the ecosystem – SIM Partners included – to act as network builders within the ecosystem, actively managing their own role and relationship with every other player in the provider’s orbit. Being a network builder means understanding what your focus is and knowing what your focus is not – and forming relationships with other ecosystem players to ensure that the healthcare provider always meets its business needs regardless of any company’s particular specialty.

How does a healthcare provider know if their vendor partners are effective network builders? You ask questions such as these:

  • What is your partner really good at? Beware the company that says, “We do everything well.” No one is good at everything. A true network builder will tell you what the company does exceptionally well – and then explain how it works with other businesses to complement its in-house skills. A poor network builder will simply tell you how good they are at their core competence without explaining how they fill the gaps in areas beyond their core specialty.
  • What relationships does your partner have with other businesses in your industry? Every provider wants to be vendor agnostic. But we all need to develop relationships with other businesses to really stay smart on what’s around the corner – especially in the fast-changing healthcare industry. A networker builder should be able to share names of specific organizations that they work with to deliver their work well and sense and respond to industry change.
  • How well does your partner discuss your business needs holistically? A true network builder should be able to understand your business and industry no matter what the company’s specialty happens to be, whether managing location data or building websites. Network builders build the knowledge infrastructure they need to get schooled on your business and your industry. Beware any potential partner that demonstrates a limited understanding of your business. Limited focus in services is one thing; a limited understanding is something completely different.
  • How focused is your partner on meeting your business needs? A network builder will care first and foremost about your most important business problems and show you how their solution helps you solve that problem. And then they’ll show you how they can help you solve all your problems by referring you to other businesses if needed. They won’t leave you in the lurch just because they lack an in-house capability to meet your most critical business needs.

I love it when clients and prospects ask me what SIM Partners doesn’t do. I welcome the opportunity to share how we partner with the healthcare ecosystem to solve our clients’ business problems. A network builder sees every client need as an opportunity, not a limitation. How effective are the network builders in your healthcare ecosystem?