In the era of value-based care, providers across the care spectrum are being measured (and compensated) on patient health outcomes. While no one is arguing with the premise of that focus, many providers are struggling to adopt the new measurement system while providing compassionate, effective care.
One problem is that, as the industry scrambles to adapt to the evolving value-based care matrix, providers and health care systems are being bombarded with technological tools to make life easier.
But many of these tools fall short of the mark. A common reason is that they only accommodate one of the two required participants. Digitized medical charts, for example, make it easier for physicians to track and access patient data, but patients can be frustrated if one provider’s electronic health record (HER) can’t easily share data with another. Is.
Otherwise the reverse is true: Smart health devices such as the Apple Watch can track all kinds of health-related activities that patients rely on – but much of this cannot be easily transferred to an EHR. We need tools that take into account the needs and wants of both providers and patients to drive better health outcomes.
The good news is that there is an established way of doing this – while also taking into account business feasibility and technical feasibility. it is called product innovation, In this piece, I will explain how product innovation works in healthcare and how it leads to better patient treatment adherence and ultimately to better health outcomes.
What is product innovation?
I realize that “product innovation” sounds a bit strange. What it describes is a value system that balances three considerations when creating new things: user desirability, business feasibility, and technical feasibility.
In the context of healthcare, this means creating new products (or improving existing products) in such a way that…
- Doctors feel good about prescribing them and patients use them as intended (user desirability).
- The business has the resources available and a realistic plan to market and sell the product in a way that attracts users (business viability).
- The products can be maintained and developed by the business with its existing operational infrastructure (technical feasibility).
Perhaps the simplest way to explain how product innovation is different from the traditional approach to creating new products is this: When you embrace product innovation, your risk of flopping is drastically reduced. That is, you’ll never invest a lot of time and resources into building something that users don’t adopt or that the business can’t maintain in the long run.
In non-health care settings, this is compelling because it means businesses can avoid months of costly development that goes nowhere. In healthcare, the stakes are high: When you embrace product innovation, you avoid investing in solutions that have no impact on patient health (or worse, that actually harm people). Huh).
Some key principles involved in developing this way are:
- Start with Users. In healthcare, this means talking to physicians and patients from day one. Without understanding the people who use a product, it is highly unlikely that we will create something that will help them.
- Build iteratively. Instead of building everything head-down and making one big launch that may succeed or fail, product innovation calls for creating mockups and prototyping with increasing fidelity. We share these with business users and stakeholders, get feedback, and build the next version with that feedback in mind.
- Retreat, then unite. To have a good idea, you must have many ideas. A key part of product innovation is coming up with multiple ways to solve a problem, testing the most promising, and learning from those tests to get closer and closer to the best thing.
- De-risk as you go. Continuous user and stakeholder feedback helps us avoid going too far down a dead-end path.
Let us now take a look at some use cases to see how this way of working can produce digital health products that drive patient adherence and thus better outcomes.
Accounting for Emotions in the Treatment of Overactive Bladder
When we partnered with a digital therapeutics company to develop a product to deliver behavioral therapy to people diagnosed with overactive bladder (OAB), we began the engagement by talking with potential users – people with OAB.
One of the most remarkable things we noticed during those conversations was that many people started off by reassuring us that their OAB symptoms were no big deal. And then he would tell story after story of how these symptoms had thrown his life out of whack.
This sparked an ah-ha moment for us: We saw that people feel a lot of embarrassment about OAB, which indicated that we needed to find ways to reduce that embarrassment in what we built.
Subsequent prototype testing led us to develop a chatbot with a digital bladder leak diary. CeCe, the chatbot, uses friendly, non-technical language. The app’s imagery and language is bright, cheerful and factual. When users record bladder leakage and the conditions in which it occurred, CeCe provides them with context about how many other people with OAB have had similar experiences, which eases embarrassment by letting users know they are not alone . Keeping the feasibility in mind, we have built the product as a native app versus a simple web app. The work was for beta testing that would eventually lead to a product that applies for FDA approval.
Zoom out, and the implications are significant: about 50 million people There is at least one chronic pelvic health disorder, with treatment costs exceeding $100 billion per year. What’s more, many of these people live four hours or more away from a doctor who can offer specialized treatment. A digital health solution available on a smart device can significantly improve symptoms, prevent progression of conditions, improve quality of life for patients, and help manage the costs of the condition.
Replacing patient memory with data in spinal fusion recovery
memory is unreliable well established, Pain can be particularly difficult to remember, especially when trying to measure the pain you feel today compared to the pain you felt three weeks ago. This makes the spinal surgeon’s job difficult: An important metric to track after spinal fusion surgery is whether a patient’s pain is subsiding.
Without an accurate assessment, it’s difficult to know how recovery is going, what to recommend, and when (and if) to change course.
When we talked to spine surgeons about tracking patients’ recovery, they expressed a desire for more objective data about patients’ adherence to pain and recovery protocols, such as wearing bone stimulators and getting regular moderate activity. .
When we talked with patients recovering from spinal fusion surgery, we learned that they often avoided activity during the recovery phase because it caused pain, and they worried that pain was a sign that they should stop and remain immobile. .
In fact, moderate activity, while painful in the moment, improves recovery and causes less pain in the long term. We used all this information to develop an app with a bone stimulator after surgery. The device had a built-in pedometer, so we built an app that pulled daily step counts and daily device usage and sent a daily signal to users to assess their pain.
Over time, patients could see their pain trend decrease as they used the bone stimulator and maintained regular activity levels – both highly motivating to continue following the protocol.
During their follow-up visits, surgeons were able to view their data as a PDF, see how well they were adhering and what their pain was like, and make recommendations based on that data.
To build products users use, build products users love
It sounds obvious once you say it: Build products users love, and they’re more likely to use them. In healthcare, this means they are more likely to follow treatment protocols associated with those products and therefore enjoy better health outcomes.
Product innovation begins with the end in mind, focusing on developing products that work for both patients and the providers who will use them while taking into account technical constraints and business goals.
As health systems seek more cost-effective ways to provide personalized care to patients, digital tools and products will undoubtedly play a larger role in treatment. Embracing product innovation will help ensure the efficient use of business resources in development and maintenance, enthusiastic adoption among patients and providers, and stronger overall health outcomes.