Deciding to start a health information website can be lucrative — the entire healthtech (healthcare technology) industry is expected to be worth $721 billion by 2026. More and more people are turning to digital healthcare options, especially since the pandemic left many people unwilling to go to in-person appointments. While health care costs are going up, telehealth usage has increased since the start of the pandemic and is only expected to continue rising.
In this article, learn what challenges you’ll face when launching a health information website startup, how to narrow down your website’s focus, the pros and cons, and how to finance a medtech startup.
The Challenges Of Starting a Health Information Website
When starting any new business in the healthcare field, you’ll have to follow strict laws around protecting patients’ private information. The federal government mandates how a company can handle electronic health records (EHR). Failing to comply with these regulations can bring steep consequences.
Additionally, the health care system is complex. The field of medicine is complicated in general, with so many specialties and difficult-to-understand jargon. You’ll need personal experience or be willing to bring in outside experts. And you’ll be dealing with a conservative health care industry that can be hesitant to change or add new technology. Plus, 36% of medical record administrators say it’s still a challenge to exchange health records. So if you’re dealing with health records, your product must meet interoperability standards.
Success stories in the health information website space include WebMD, HealthUnlocked, and HealthCentral.
Decide What Type of Health Information Website You’re Building
Starting a health information website means you can centralize a specific type of health information in one hub. Over half of the U.S. households use online searches to find health-related information, so the potential market is large. However, you don’t want to reinvent the wheel — you’ll need to make decisions that make sure you stand out from the crowd.
Some medtech companies that are going through steady growth focus on areas like:
- Mental health
- Patient care, like health care providers
- Health hardware
- Data or electronic medical records (EMR)
- Insurance health plans, including Medicaid or Medicare
- Women’s health
There are many options for the kind of health information website you can launch. You can choose to start a conversational blog focusing on a specific condition, a database of scientific articles studying one topic, or reviews of new health-related products that enter the market. The important thing is that it’s a business you’re passionate about and can dedicate yourself to.
Pros and Cons of Starting a Health Information Website
There are positives and negatives to any business venture, so it’s important to understand and explore them before you decide to launch your business.
- Can start small and expand on your own timeline
- Startup and overhead costs are relatively low
- Can bring in high revenue
- Work can be rewarding
- There’s a lot of competition and the space is crowded
- You must follow strict legal requirements
- Trust can take a long time to build
- May take time to see an income
The Importance of Niches in the Health Information Industry
The health information industry is crowded, so it’s essential to stand out. Not every client is a good fit for your healthcare website. Although it may seem counterintuitive, the more you specialize your services, the more likely you are to attract your ideal customers. Clients who are a good fit for your niche are more likely to return again and again and become long-time, loyal customers.
Think of it like this: Are you more likely to visit a website frequently that targets women who are looking for community while struggling with chronic pain (if you fit the description), or a website that collects information on many health problems? First, even if the latter didn’t already exist, you’re more likely to use it for one-off searches. The initial business option is something that would draw you back in over and over.
When you’re writing out your business plan, think through which niche interests you most and who your ideal customers are.
Know How HIPAA Relates to Your Website or Blog
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects personal health details that can be used to identify someone. HIPAA details the rules around how businesses and providers must exchange medical data, as well as keep it secure and private. Violations can cost up to $50,000 for an incident and up to $1.5 million each year, so it’s a law you need to understand and comply with.
For a website that stores patient data — including contact forms patients fill in — it needs to encrypt the data. At the very least, you’ll need an SSL certificate for your website so the data is better protected. The details of HIPAA are outlined on HHS.gov.
How to Finance a Health Information Website
It costs money for entrepreneurs and small business owners to start any new venture. Although starting a website can be affordable, there are startup costs, as well as additional costs you may not be thinking of.
There are many ways to fund your health information website. Here are some of the most common options:
- Small business loans: Small business loans are a great way to get the capital you need for launching a business or to pay for operating expenses. You’ll pay interest on the lump sum you borrow.
- Alternative loans: These are online loans that are typically easier to qualify for than bank loans and can be faster to offer funding, sometimes as quickly as the same day. Interest rates may be higher on alternative loans than bank loans.
- Business credit cards: Business credit cards provide flexible capital that you can use as needed, and also potentially earn rewards. You’ll pay interest on what you borrow, and interest rates may be higher than other financing sources, but they are often easier to qualify for.
- Business line of credit: Like a credit card, a business line of credit offers a pool of money that you can draw from as needed — and you’ll only pay interest on what you borrow. Credit limits are typically much higher than for business credit cards, so if you need more financing, a line of credit may work for you.
- SBA loans: The Small Business Administration partners with lenders to offer low-interest, government-backed loans to small businesses. However, these loans are often difficult to qualify for and the application process is long.
Having established business credit is essential when trying to qualify for many types of business funding. A good business credit score makes you appear more legitimate to lenders, so they’re more likely to be willing to lend to your business. Learn how to establish business credit in this Nav guide today.
Know the Startup Costs Associated With a Health Information Website
When you’re running a website, you won’t need to pay for clinicians, office space, or primary care doctors. But you will have costs associated with your health information website. So it’s good to get an idea of cost estimates and total costs so you can decide what you can afford.
Web development costs
You’ll need to design a functional website (and likely redesign it a few years down the line). You can work off a premade website template, but you’ll have limited functionality. If you want a website that offers the functionality you need and a great user experience, you may want to pay for a professional web developer. You may also have information technology costs.
Learn the five steps to creating a business website from Nav here.
Content creation costs
Creating enough content to bring in readers requires a fast workflow, and you may not be able to handle it all on your own. Whether you want to write one case study or one blog post per week, you may need to bring on professional writers to help with content creation. Also, if you don’t have the experience or expertise to write on your business’s topic, bringing in experts can help to increase your reliability.
Marketing and promotion costs
You’ll need to promote your health information website, so you’ll run into marketing costs. Whether it’s paid ads on social media or paid partnerships with large healthcare companies, you’ll need a budget line for marketing costs. See Nav’s guide on how to create a small business marketing plan here.
Legal and regulatory costs
You may need to hire a lawyer to ensure your website is compliant with regulations. This expense could be a one-off cost or an ongoing budget item, depending on your business. You also may need to pay for business formation services when you’re starting a new business, and business insurance to keep your business protected.
Financial Planning and Budgeting for Digital Products
When you’re creating an online business, it’s still essential to put a financial foundation in place for your business. This includes picking accounting services that will function for what you need and make keeping track of business income and expenditures much easier. Additionally, you’ll need to set yourself up for success with business taxes to make filing business taxes easier.
If you’re struggling with where to start when creating a business budget, turn to this guide from Nav’s experts. You’ll be able to follow seven steps to building a workable business budget that you can use to manage and set goals for your business.
Creating a health information website can be a lucrative initiative, as long as you have a plan in place ahead of time. You’ll need to decide what kind of website you want to create, your target audience, how you’re going to market it, and how you plan to pay for launching it.
If you’re turning to finance, Nav provides the easiest solution for small business owners looking for the right financing option for them. Your business details help Nav curate your funding options from its 160+ partner products. That way, you’ll know what’s right for your business — before you apply. Nav is your small business partner, no matter where you are on your journey.
This article was originally written on August 11, 2023.