Decoded: HealthTech Jargon 101

Our CEO has been in healthcare for about 14 years, from EMT to Entrepreneur. Along his journey he realized that the world of startups and healthcare equal one thing: jargon. A lot of it. Here's the 101 on HealthTech Startup Jargon.

Decoded: HealthTech Jargon 101

I’ve been in healthcare for about 14 years, having started as an EMT back when I was 18. In retrospect, I can’t imagine an 18 year old version of myself DRIVING AN AMBULANCE, but that’s what I did. Having made the fortuitous leap from EMT to Entrepreneur, I’ve come to learn something important. The combination of healthcare and startups equals one thing: jargon. A lot of it.

If you’re new to healthcare, new to startups or just curious about what it’s like to be part of this evolving ecosystem, here’s the 101 on HealthTech Startup Jargon:

  1. Deck. Noun. It’s a powerpoint presentation. That’s it. “Hey Jill, I can’t find the newest version of our sales deck. Which Confluence, Google Drive, Slack Channel, Jira Ticket or Box folder is it in?”
  2. PMF or Product Market Fit. Adverb. It’s the closest thing to “fake it till you make it.” In the simplest sense, it’s something you build that the market really wants and is excited to buy. “Jill, after you find that deck, take a look at these 37 data points I aggregated that will graphically indicate when we have PMF.”
  3. Iterate. Verb. This is used to passive aggressively tell someone what they worked on isn’t… great. “The new feature isn’t being used very much, Bob, we should iterate.”
  4. Fee-for-Service. Adjective. An old business model slowing going extinct. “Mr. Smith got an X-ray yesterday? Let’s do another, we’re a Fee-for-Service shop.”
  5. Low Hanging Fruit. Adjective. A fancy way of saying doing something easy. “Let’s throw in a chatbot to increase customer interaction—that’s low hanging fruit.”
  6. Interoperability. Adverb. When systems can communicate easily with one another. “Samantha is a Sagittarius; we simply don’t interoperate.”
  7. FHIR. Acronym. FHIR or Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources is a way of representing a human’s health with medical record data in a standard way. “This CCDA is too hard to use; can you convert it to FHIR?” Also sounds like “FIRE” so please proceed with caution when shouted in a crowded theater.
  8. Roll Out. Verb. This is used to indicate getting a product out to market. “This product has 73 bugs “new features” we didn’t tell sales about, not shabby, let’s roll it out.”
  9. HIPAA. Noun. A federal policy meant to allow for safe and secure sharing of patient information with stakeholders and the patient themselves. “We can’t share data because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).” Definitions will vary institution to institution.
  10. Alpha Testing. Verb. When a feature isn’t actually ready but the Sales team insists on letting customers use it. “Oh we’re alpha testing that core functionality.” See also: Beta Testing.
  11. Beta Testing. Verb. When the engineers keep saying a feature is ready but you don’t quite trust them. “Oh we’re beta testing that core functionality.” See also: Alpha Testing.
  12. API. Noun. Definitions vary by department, but for some reason engineers get quite worked up about it. “The Marketing team keeps suggesting we’ll develop a new API that will rebrand our color scheme. For some reason, the engineers all left early today.”
  13. Big Data. Noun. Having an abundance of data that does not actually get used in any meaningful way, but sounds impressive because there is a lot of it. “Big data. Huge.”
  14. Data Lake. Noun. A euphemism that makes it sound like having lots of data in different locations is like a dreamy vacation (see “Big Data”). E.g., “Hey, can’t wait to head to the data lake with the family this weekend!” Warning: risk of drowning in a data lake is real; there is no lifeguard on duty.
  15. ICD Code. Noun. A Code used to classify what really happened to your boss during his family trip to the Data Lake. “Sounds like John had a wild case of ICD Code V91.07XA. (Burn due to water-skis on fire, initial encounter.)”
  16. SaaS Model. Noun. Signifies a new investor round is underway and the revenue potential is infinite (see Salesforce).
  17. Patient Portal. Noun. A very complex, comprehensive, and dynamic information hub that promises a single location for patient data but requires a unique user profile and login credentials, which means it will never, ever actually be used (see historical artifacts Microsoft HealthVault, Google Health.)
  18. Digital Health. Adjective. It’s 2021, so this shouldn’t mean using a computer screen to look at a paper document someone just scanned in—but sometimes it does. “Can anything be considered Digital Health?” In short, yes.
  19. Wearables. Noun(s). $300 complex, app-dependent gadgets that replace perfectly adequate $2 pedometers. “Big data coming out of these wearables. Huge.”
  20. Product Roadmap. Noun. A list of features that have been promised by Sales without input or approval from Product. “The new product roadmap was met with surprise at the weekly meeting.”

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