SeeSaw Labs

The 5 Mistakes Most Healthcare Startups Make (And How to Avoid Them)

The 5 Mistakes Most Healthcare Startups Make (And How to Avoid Them)

 

Healthcare product design and development can come with its share of risk – from products failing to meet business or consumer needs, to more stressful problems like falling outside of compliance or regulatory standards.

The good news? You’re not alone. The SeeSaw Labs team has worked with dozens of companies ranging from early-stage start-ups to large global enterprises. We’ve compiled the most critical information you need to know about designing your next healthcare product successfully.

Mistake #1: Building an idea instead of solving a real problem

You will not be able to learn much about your product until it is shipped live for real users to experience. Getting to this point fast is critical.

Oftentimes, new product leaders will expect to receive rave reviews off the bat – leading to an endless search for perfection before pushing it live. You may have great ideas, but it’s important to be realistic, cost-effective, and fail fast.

How to avoid it: In-depth user research, “jobs to be done” analysis

To successfully design a healthcare product and bring it to market, you must be willing to look and get feedback as early in the process as possible. This will not always be (and rarely will be) positive, but it is invaluable in terms of making your product commercially relevant.

Spend time talking directly with users during development phases; ask questions regarding desired features and even reach out via surveys – doing so helps build relationships with customers post launch too, meaning greater chances of success long term once available for full commercial operations.

Mistake #2: Not getting a product MVP up fast enough

When building a healthcare start-up, deciding on which direction to take your product so that it succeeds in the market is typically the most pressing challenge. Without proper guidance and understanding, entrepreneurs can quickly find themselves making costly mistakes that could put the entire project at risk.

How to avoid it: Prototype rapidly with a lean mindset

It is critical that you sprint towards your first MVP with as much speed and grace as possible. In the early stages, focus solely on the need-to-have feature(s) that differentiate your product in the market and make an exceptional experience for the user.

By doing ample research, talking to users, and understanding the competitive landscape, entrepreneurs can ensure they are avoiding costly healthcare startup mistakes and setting themselves up for success.

Mistake #3: Overlooking key industry requirements

Healthcare product development comes with rigorous guidelines that engineers, marketers, and salespeople must uphold. Being meticulous in this regard will pay off down the line. You will need to address these concerns at some point, so getting your product compliant will save you big time.

How to avoid it: Understand interoperability, industry standards

Technology develops rapidly. To be successful in a competitive industry, it’s essential that your team is fully aware of the requirements set forth by regulatory agencies.

To ensure a successful launch, founders should follow these steps:

Research local regulatory rules – Healthcare startups must be aware of the laws governing healthtech products in their locality. It is also important to consider potential changes to existing legislature as technology evolves over time. Healthcare startup mistakes can be avoided by consulting legal advisors.

Get help from experts – Healthcare regulation specialists can help founders navigate through all the paperwork required for an efficient launch process. These services can also ensure continued alignment with set standards after launch day.

Execute & continuously review processes Executing well-thought-out plans is necessary due to the complexity involved. Multiple teams must work together to adhere to protocols stipulated by healthcare organizations such as the FDA.

Mistake #4: Running through cash too fast – with nothing to show

To maintain a cost-efficient approach, it’s important to deploy capital sparingly in the beginning stages so that you can improve as needed. Getting to your first iteration quickly and cheaply will give you the most bang for your buck.

How to avoid it: Waste time trying to get your product perfect the first (or 100th) time

To avoid this mistake, entrepreneurs should have clearly defined goals and milestones they want to reach with their budget.

It’s important for businesses to create financial plans and forecasts which are regularly reviewed against actual performance so corrective action can be taken if needed before major losses occur as a result of irresponsible spending habits.

Having a clear understanding of basic finance principles beyond simple math calculations and ratios used in everyday life activities such as paying bills from paycheck wages received from employers at fulltime jobs within industries unrelated directly connected and supportive services towards meeting company standards outside comfort zones usually explored only under high levels of stress during problem solving situations is essential.

Mistake #5: Not letting users into the product early enough

What problem is your app solving?

What features should it have?

These questions must be answered before committing resources into development, especially if you plan on launching within limited funds and timelines set by investors or industry standards/regulations.

Further research such as testing out existing products in the same space can provide invaluable insight into what works best for users, allowing you to develop more effective feature sets from day one.

How to avoid it: Launch… even if you think you’re not ready!

Getting real-world users into your software or mobile app is the only way to stress-test the ideas generated in the beginning of development. Launch your product even before you think its ready so that when the time comes, you can be confident in it’s success in the market.

Conclusion: Healthcare Technology Comes With It’s Share Of Mishaps

In conclusion, starting a healthcare startup is a challenging but rewarding endeavor. By avoiding common mistakes like failing to conduct proper market research, developing an MVP that’s too broad or too narrow, burning through cash too quickly, not meeting industry regulations, and neglecting the customer experience, early-stage founders can increase their chances of success.

CTO Outsourcing 101: When, Who, and How to Hire An Outsourced CTO

Whether you’re a startup or an established business, the need for an experienced technology leader is essential for success. CTO outsourcing is an increasingly popular solution for many companies who don’t have the resources to hire and retain an in-house CTO. This article provides an overview of the basics of CTO outsourcing by addressing questions such as when to outsource, who to hire, and how to find the right outsourced CTO.

What is CTO Outsourcing?

CTO outsourcing has been popularized mostly within the tech industry. It involves hiring a third-party technology specialist to fill your organization’s Chief Technology Officer role. An outsourced CTO provides the same services as an internal CTO, but with less overhead and other associated costs.

An outsourced CTO will be able to help you with:

  • Creating technology roadmaps
  • Auditing current systems and tools
  • Diagnosing errors, bugs, and inefficiencies
  • Leading product design & development teams
  • Owning your strategy for driving ROI from technology

A successful relationship with an outsourced CTO requires clear communication between both parties about project goals and objectives from the start.

When to Outsource a CTO

When it comes to managing the tech operations of a business, having an experienced Chief Technology Officer (CTO) on board is essential. A CTO is responsible for developing and executing the long-term technology strategy of a company, making them a crucial part of any successful organization. With the increasing demand for technical expertise in today’s fast-paced digital world, many businesses are wondering when it is appropriate to outsource their CTO roles.

When considering whether or not to outsource a CTO there are several factors to consider. For instance, if your project requires specific technical know-how that you don’t have in house, outsourcing may be necessary in order to ensure that your project meets its goals and deadlines.

Who to Hire as an Outsourced CTO

Any business that is looking for a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) should consider outsourcing the position to a highly-competent and experienced individual. An Outsourced CTO provides businesses with access to talented professionals who have expertise in both technology and management. By outsourcing this key role, businesses can benefit from a CTO without having to hire full-time employees or manage their own IT infrastructure.

The ideal candidate for owning and driving your technology strategy will have to be some with a high degree of technical experience, industry competence, and leadership abilities like integrity, people management, and stakeholder engagement.

An outsourced CTO may have a variety of experiences, but the most common (and impactful) ones come from the very-same role in-house. Or something similar. Common examples include:

  • Chief Technology Officer
  • Chief Product Officer
  • Head of Engineering
  • Developer with Business Savvy
  • Leaders in Product Management

How to Find an Outsourced CTO

Finding a CTO for your business can be daunting. After all, the Chief Technology Officer is responsible for ensuring that your company has the most up-to-date technology and implements cutting edge solutions in order to stay competitive. It’s important to find someone who not only has the right technical skills, but also meshes well with your existing team. 

The best way to find an outsourced CTO is typically by looking through your current network. Think about past colleagues you’ve worked with, agencies and vendors that had great talent, or a particular company in your industry that may be gearing up for turnover. 

Other common places to find an Outsourced CTO include:

  • Custom software development firms
  • Product design and development firms
  • Individual consultants and contractors online
  • Freelance marketplaces like UpWork
  • Job seekers on LinkedIn, Indeed, and more

Benefits of Outsourcing CTOs

Outsourcing a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) can provide a variety of benefits to businesses. It significantly reduces the cost of traditional hiring practices, helps companies access experienced talent from around the world, and allows businesses to focus their efforts on core competencies without having to invest in things like recruiting, onboarding and training for new technology employees. 

  1. The primary benefit of outsourcing a CTO is cost savings. Companies can save on long-term recruitment costs associated with traditional hiring methods as well as benefit from the lower hourly rate offered by outsourced professionals compared to an in-house hire. Additionally, they avoid potential hidden costs associated with permanent hires such as sick days or administrative overhead expenses related to insurance coverage or vacation pay.
  2. Another valuable benefit is the wide variety of talent that outsourcing allows. When you can accept working arrangements from virtually anybody across the world, especially on a partial-time commitment, it significantly increases your talent pool. 
  3. One obvious benefit is the extra (wo)manpower. Outsourced CTOs provide valuable services such as developing technology strategies, understanding customer needs and requirements, and creating the necessary systems needed to support their goals. 
  4. They help you stay up to date. CTOs help companies stay current on industry trends and technologies, ensuring they are up-to-date with the latest advancements in their field.

Challenges of Outsourcing CTOs

As more and more companies are choosing to outsource their Chief Technology Officers (CTO), there is a growing awareness of the challenges associated with this decision. For many organizations, hiring a CTO from outside their organization can be an intimidating prospect as it requires significant trust and understanding of the technology landscape. However, when done correctly, outsourcing can be beneficial for both parties, providing access to new skills and ideas that may not have existed in-house.

Organizations need to carefully consider all of the potential issues when deciding whether or not outsourcing is right for them. 

Most importantly, they must ensure that the CTO hired from outside is well suited to their particular needs; any misalignment between expectations and abilities could result in costly delays or substandard solutions.

Conclusion: Considerations for Hiring an Outsourced CTO

In conclusion, hiring an outsourced CTO can be invaluable to a business looking to remain competitive in the ever-evolving technology landscape. It is important to understand the scope of the project, select a CTO with extensive experience and the necessary industry knowledge, and ensure they have the right team and resources to support them. With a bit of research and due diligence, businesses can find an experienced CTO who can help drive their digital transformation goals.

The Definitive Answer To “What Is A Fractional CTO?”

A fractional CTO is a method of outsourcing technology leadership roles to professionals on a part-time or flexible basis.

This article will explore the advantages, responsibilities and differences between full-time and fractional Chief Technology Officers (CTO), as well as why they are gaining traction in today’s talent landscape.

What Is A Fractional CTO? Fractional CTO Meaning

A fractional Chief Technology Officer, or CTO, is an executive-level IT expert who provides tech guidance and direction on a flexible basis. 

They are typically hired by small to mid-sized companies that do not need—or cannot afford—the services of a full-time CTO.

A fractional CTO differs from their full-time counterparts in two key ways: overall workload and pay structure.

Rather than entering into a long-term employment agreement, they are usually contracted for an agreed period of time at the end of which either party can terminate the contract if desired.

In addition to this flexibility, there is also often more room for negotiation when it comes to salary compensation; based on project duration, short-term contracts can be much cheaper than paying out benefits packages, bonuses, etc associated with employing someone full-time all year round.

The scope of work that fractional CTOs take care of varies between organizations but, broadly speaking, they will be responsible for setting technology strategy and vision while managing implementation across multiple departments, including sales & marketing, as well as product design teams, amongst others!

Additionally, it may include overseeing day-to-day operations, like security compliance, monitoring user analytics, data warehousing, etc.

Ultimately, depending on how those duties have been allocated within the organization hierarchy, they report directly up towards the CEO/board members or, accordingly, peer-level ops leads/managers, alongside other non-technical business roles, such as finance and HR personnel.

The Role Of The Fractional Chief Technology Officer

The role of the Fractional Chief Technology Officer (CTO) can range from the requirements of a traditional full-time CTO to, for example, only a few hours per week of work on one specific initiative.

A CTO’s primary responsibility lies in developing a company’s business objectives through technological solutions.

However, how this manifests itself between full-time employees and contract positions can differ drastically depending on the scope of work and resources available.

At its core, fractional CT Os provide valuable insights which benefit their client’s growth without requiring any long-term commitments like hiring permanent staff members would require.

Fractional CTOs usually report directly to the executive team but may have different levels of operational autonomy based on agreed upon terms within engagement contracts with clients.

This could include helping shape product roadmaps or leading strategic projects independently, or providing feedback and consultation when needed once everything else has been taken care of internally.

They typically differ from freelance consultants because they often manage teams (if not entire departments) while being held accountable for certain metrics like KPIs related to cost savings and/or improved process efficiencies throughout the organization.

In addition, they may also be responsible for regular updates and reports summarising progress against defined goals prior to presentation to end users at key stakeholders meetings periodically scheduled throughout the year.

This allows for necessary changes to take place due to better informed decisions.

By understanding the fractional CTO meaning, companies can make better informed decisions and benefit from the expertise of a CTO without the long-term commitment.

Advantages Of Hiring A Fractional CTO

The advantages of hiring a fractional CTO are many and varied. For businesses, going the FCTO route can open up unique opportunities that would otherwise be impossible.

Here are some of the biggest benefits: 

  1. Lower Cost – Employing a fractional CTO rather than bringing in an entire team is significantly cheaper for startups or small/medium-sized companies who don’t have deep pockets to hire full-time staff on salary.

Fractional CTOs charge much less than their full-time counterparts while providing just as valuable services, making them cost-effective and scalable solutions to technology issues facing most organizations today.

  1. Ability To Scale Quickly – Once your company has developed a successful product or strategy with input from its Principal Technology Officer (PTCO), the next logical step is scaling it quickly and efficiently.

With access to sophisticated technical resources unavailable outside corporate IT departments at large corporations, you’re able to get projects done quicker without having expensive dedicated teams tied down by inefficiencies associated with complex infrastructure rollouts and long-term planning agendas ensued through limited personnel resources.

  1. Access To Professional Expertise − Your organization gains access to specialized skillsets typically not found among junior level personnel such as software consultants or IT administrators working in more traditional roles within the enterprise environment; advanced technical capabilities save massive amounts of development time so businesses can focus on generating revenue instead of worrying about how difficult implementing changes may prove internally with a fractional CTO.

In Conclusion: The Growing Popularity Of Fractional CTOs

The growing popularity of fractional CTOs is an occurrence not to be overlooked.

With the rise of technology, remote work and flexible working schedules becoming more commonplace, businesses are investing in executives on a part-time basis for their technological needs.

Hiring a fractional CTO offers many advantages for businesses. It is a cost-effective and scalable solution to technology issues, allowing businesses to scale quickly and access professional expertise. These fracional executives provide specialized experience and knowledge, and can help complete rapid changes and development quickly.

Interoperability in Healthcare Tech: What it is & Why it’s Important

What is Healthcare Interoperability?

Healthcare interoperability refers to the ability of two or more healthcare systems to share information with each other so that they can interpret and use it. The “systems” can be medical devices, computer software, mobile apps, and more.

The term was made popular during the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009, which was the first attempt by the US government to outline expectations for health information technology (HIT) to electronically exchange data.

Why is healthcare interoperability important?

Imagine if pharmacists and doctors were unable to share critical patient information between their offices to make a timely treatment decision – that’s one of the many reasons healthcare interoperability is important.
Potentially life-threatening scenarios aside, healthcare interoperability has also worked wonders in terms of making the industry more consumer-friendly and convenient.

Take blood sugar monitors for example – diabetes patients can simply prick their fingers and have their blood compared against the device’s database. No need to go to the doctor’s office or pay for expensive treatments.

The convenience that healthcare interoperability allows can also be illustrated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Due to evolutions in healthcare systems, inflicted patients were able to share physical symptoms and parameters via the cloud to reduce the spread.

What are the benefits of healthcare interoperability?

While the benefits of healthcare interoperability are too immense to fit in one article, we will mention some of the most notable ones revolving around efficiency, accuracy, privacy, and more. Some key benefits of healthcare interoperability are that it:

  • Increases the organization’s operating efficiency
  • Reduces redundancy in data entry and management
  • Prevents costly mistakes: medication errors, etc.
  • Promotes consumer involvement
  • Speeds up and simplifies research
  • Improves digital medicine by facilitating big data analysis
  • Adds financial incentives through Meaningful Use

Healthcare Interoperability Standards

There are five types of standards associated with healthcare interoperability:

  • Terminology standards
  • Content standards
  • Transport standards
  • Identifier standards
  • Privacy and security standards

Terminology standards in interoperability are exactly what they sound like: guidelines surrounding the vocabulary, codes, and classifications that can be used through the process of connecting two systems.

Content standards differ because they deal with the data inside of the document during the information exchange – not the ways in which the terminology is used.

Transport standards refer to how the message or document is formatted during the exchange. For example, Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) allows for the transfer of medical images to be passed between systems.

Identifier standards simply revolve around how a patient or medical staff personnel can be identified within the system.

Privacy standards aim to protect an individual’s (or organization’s) right to determine whether, what, when, by whom and for what purpose their personal health information is collected, accessed, used or disclosed. Security standards define a set of administrative, physical and technical actions to protect the confidentiality, availability and integrity of health information.

Healthcare Interoperability Levels

Healthcare interoperability is broken down into 4 levels: foundational, structural, semantic, and organizational. These levels are differentiated by their function and purpose – whether to connect the systems, organize the data, interpret the data, or the processes for how interoperability is used with other distinctions in the organization.

Foundational

The foundational level of interoperability establishes the connection between two healthcare systems. Without it, healthcare systems would not be able to communicate with each other in the first place. Foundational interoperability allows it all to take place, but further levels of interoperability are required to process, gather insights, and ultimately gain value out of the connection.

Structural

Structural interoperability is the level that determines how the data will be shared from one system to another. It defines the format that must be used in order for the two systems to make use of each other’s data. Once the structural requirements have been defined, the systems can understand the data being shared, and the user can, too.

Semantic

The semantic level of interoperability is where healthcare-specific concepts are exchanged and interpreted between systems. It ensures that medical terminology, naming conventions, etc. can be shared and used in a way that works. For example, common resources at the semantic level are HGNC and SNOMED. HGNC is the nomenclature for genes and SNOMED is a general-purpose language with over three hundred thousand medical concepts.

Organizational

The organizational level is how healthcare interoperability is used at the highest level – through business processes, workflows, and standard operating procedures. Inputs from legal, social, and organizational components are required to ensure proper integration across the whole ecosystem.

Healthcare Interoperability Challenges

Budget constraints

As with most technological advancements, there is a cost that comes with adapting to healthcare interoperability. And while we know the benefits far outweigh the alternatives, investing in the necessary people, tools, and education to make it work is not always feasible. Healthcare technology is expensive, and outdated or struggling organizations may not be able to afford to get started.
Improving interoperability requires strong coordination between different organizations, regulators, and leaders as well as coordination within organizations. Regulators provide standards and rules for healthcare organizations to follow but organizations that want to be proactive about interoperability should consider creating a dedicated interoperability strategy and make interoperability planning a priority.

Outdated systems

This tends to go hand-in-hand with budget constraints, as organizations with outdated technology may have to invest even more to bring their tech stack up to speed. For example – they will have to modernize their technology before connecting their data. Once they have new systems in place, they will still have to invest it properly aligning with the standards of healthcare interoperability – so it can feel like a double whammy.

Not all organizations have the financial or technical resources they need to invest in the technical resources needed to build a truly interoperable system.

There may be some government grants available to update health records systems, so organizations should check to see if they’re eligible. Many cloud vendors also offer pay-as-you-go payment models that could make technical expenses more affordable and predictable.

Organization & coordination

It takes a village to build and adopt a modern way of managing your healthcare systems. Leadership, faculty, and patients must all work together to meet the requirements of regulatory agencies, act in accordance with the law, and ensure that all parties are comfortable handling their sensitive healthcare data.

Wide range of needs

There is a large volume of healthcare organizations that provide different medical services and require different data-sharing protocols. Organizations may use different internal and external systems than their counterparts based on their specific needs and the volume of patients they serve. This can lead to increased complexity when adopting a more integrated approach.

Healthcare Interoperability Resources

Health Information Exchange (HIE)

Health information exchange, or HIE, allows us to move clinical information between two or more healthcare systems in a way that retains the meaning and use of the information. In doing so, HIE makes it faster, safer, simple, and more effective to transfer this information between entities.

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR)

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) was created by Health Level Seven International (HL7) and is a “standard describing data formats and elements and an application programming interface for exchanging electronic health records.” Simply put, FHIR was created to make it easier to transfer healthcare data between systems.

FHIR organizes and structures data and provides guidelines for how they should be organized and interpreted by other computer systems and applications.

See the whole list of interoperability standards and resources here.

What is CCDA? Everything Your Product Team Needs to Know

What is CCDA? Everything Your Product Team Needs to Know

Within the healthcare industry, interoperability, or the ability of computer systems or software to exchange and make use of information, is of the utmost importance. It is imperative that patient data and records are able to flow freely between multiple providers, payors, and patients. In order to facilitate this process, CCDA, or Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture, was introduced as the standard for generating clinical documents.

So, why is it important for product teams to know about this standard? Understanding the ways in which your software product idea can integrate into other systems will improve efficiency and function while providing a competitive advantage in the industry.

What is CCDA?

According to the official ONC website, a CCDA document is an Extensible Markup Language (XML) document summarizing current and pertinent historical information about an individual patient’s health care record at a given facility. Its primary function is to standardize the content and structure for clinical care summaries.

To better understand the function of C-CDA, let’s start by diving into just CDA, without the “C”onsolidated part. CDA or Clinical Document Architecture, is a popular markup standard for electronic healthcare documentation. Each time a patient has a visit to a healthcare provider, a separate document is generated following this CDA format. Now, when you think of how many visits an individual has to make throughout their lifetime, there could be hundreds of these documents to exchange and sift through. As a result, CDA became known for having many variations, increasing the difficulty of exchanging these documents.

In an effort to resolve this issue and improve interoperability within the healthcare industry, C-CDA emerged with stricter rules for the structure, encoding, and semantics of clinical documents of CDA documents.

Benefits of CCDA

CCDA is a universal sharable health format that all certified EHR vendors can read and write, making electronic health records more easily exchangeable. Before CCDA, providers were put in a frenzy each time they tried to implement a specific clinical document. CCDA structure provides an easy exchange model for medical documents with better readability and point to point connection.

CCDA benefits include:

  • Facilitate user-friendly readable templates and information
  • Allow caregivers to know where to go for the information they are specifically looking for
  • Supports video and audio interoperability between systems
  • Supports the exchange of clinical documents between those involved in the care of a patient.
  • Supports the re-use of clinical data for public health reporting, quality monitoring, patient safety and clinical trials.
  • Can be reused in multiple applications.
  • CCDA is a full-blown CDA, providing methodology for the templates in your electronic health record software.
  • Accommodates all medical documents, and may include binary data and other document types.

Limitations of CCDA

While they’ve helped to standardize EHR documentation, CCDA documents still have a reputation for being potentially hard to work with and hard to search. In fact, CCDA is being phased out for a newer format, FHIR, but it still remains highly popular among the healthcare industry. You cannot ignore it!

Why is CCDA important for product teams to know about?

CCDA format is important for product teams to grasp in order to formulate a product idea and optimize its functionality. You need to know what ways your software can integrate with other systems in the industry and how it will consume and exchange data within those systems.

CCDA is essentially the means for which your product can communicate with these other integrations, as it is the most popular way for healthcare products to communicate with each other. Having your software comply with the CCDA format is a must when it comes to the healthcare industry.

Successfully Launch Your Healthcare Product in 6 Steps

Successfully Launch Your Healthcare Product in 8 Steps

If you’re a health tech visionary looking to bring your healthcare product to market, you’ve come to the right place.

Successfully launching a new healthcare product can seem daunting with the industry’s compliance regulations, codes, and security standards. However, it’s not much different from launching in any other industry.

In general, the attributes of a successful product launch in any given industry are similar. You’ll want to make sure you cover the basics whether you’re launching a complex health tech product, simple SaaS tool, or consumer product:

  • Start with the right people, resources, and expectations
  • Define and then focus incessantly on the specific problem or “job to be done”
  • Head to the drawing board for brainstorming and design thinking
  • Conduct rapid prototyping with regular consumer feedback
  • Land on a minimal viable product (MVP) after sufficient iteration on the prototype
  • Conduct “mini” launches and continue to iterate as you go

Critical Healthcare Product Compliance To Consider

While bringing a product to market is similar across industries, there are some nuanced considerations to be aware of when it comes specifically to healthcare technology products.

Here are a few things to consider when building and launching healthcare products:

  • Data is sensitive for the healthcare industry, so there are often strict rules related to data security, data access, and data display.
  • There are various codes, regulations, and standards to consider like HIPAA, HL7, and CCDA that may impact your healthtech product. .
  • Interoperability –  – the ability to exchange and use information between two or more different healthcare systems. Much research has been done to conclude that interoperability in healthcare greatly improves positive outcomes and benefits for patients, and this should be something your healthcare product strives to maximize.

1) Pick your product team

You’ll want the perfect mix of people to form your product team, from design, engineering, sales, marketing, subject matter experts, and customer success specialists. There are 4 primary risks that must be managed and mitigated when developing software products. Each of these areas should be assigned to a member of the product team whose primary role is to manage and mitigate the associated risk:

  1. Value Risk – will customers care? Will customers need/want/buy it?
  2. Usability Risk – will it be easy to use and ensure a frictionless experience?
  3. Technical Feasibility Risk – can the product be built with our time, skills, and money? Ensure someone owns the security and any healthcare-related regulation/compliance risks as well.
  4. Business Viability Risk – will the solution work for the various dimensions of both the product development company’s and the end customer’s business?

Ideally, this team will be assembled from people with previous product launch experience, as well as a mix of skill sets and backgrounds including graphic and UX design, engineering, sales and marketing, core business financial success stakeholders, and subject matter experts.

2) Define a clear, specific problem that is worth solving.

Without solving a problem that plagues the day-to-day lives of your target audience, you’re destined for failure.

The best way to identify the specific problem you will be solving with your product is to think of your persona in terms of their “jobs to be done.” Examples of daily responsibilities may include painful data entry, tedious administrative tasks, or patient management.

3) Brainstorm solutions to your user’s problem.

This is the fun part – hitting the drawing board with your team. Once you have clearly defined a primary pain point within a job to be done, you can begin engaging in common brainstorming activities:

  • Host whiteboard sessions with your team to begin getting all of your ideas out of your mind and into writing.
  • Split up the team into smaller groups (or work individually) to sketch out ideas that might help solve the problem.
  • Work together to narrow down the proposed solution to just one per member of the team (or just one per smaller group)

4) Decide.

At this point there will be several proposed ideas. We must now decide on one with which to move forward.

Here, the product team  deliberates over the landscape of proposals, and finalizes the one to be prototyped. Each participant or small group will share their one identified solution, and the full product team will engage in decision-making exercises to decide the final solution that will be pursued.

5) Begin rapidly producing your prototype.

Because of uncertainty, rapid prototyping is one of the best ways to begin gathering feedback from your target end-user.

You’ve probably heard the phrase  “fail fast” – What this means is that you want to quickly understand whether your assumptions are right before continuing to apply them as you iterate through product development. Developing a quick prototype of the solution is one of the best ways to solicit feedback from your target audience, and provide them the opportunity to help adjust the design and development path.

It is important to think of the prototype as something you will throw away, and only build into just enough structure and complexity to validate assumptions with your target audience. It needs to be real enough to solicit an authentic response from the user but does not need to cover every contingency or experience flow.

6) Validate and iterate.

Put the prototype in front of real users, and get their feedback. Adjust the prototype based on this feedback and repeat this process until the solution has been validated.

7) Develop an MVP from a validated prototype.

A minimal viable product or MVP, is a production-ready asset ready to launch commercially to your target marketing audience.

Here are some important points to know about MVPs:

  • The MVP is defined and built based on all of the feedback you have received on your prototype up until that point in time.
  • The “M” in MVP means “Minimum”, and should be underscored for importance. The MVP should be the simplest, least feature-rich product possible to satisfy a hyper-specific need of the market.
  • Stay away from the “feature trap” – adding unnecessary bells and whistles to a basic product that already solves a problem. Don’t build anything in addition to what you NEED to solve the problem..
  • As you proceed to build your MVP, focus on tackling the hardest challenges first.  For a health tech product, this may have to do with healthcare industry requirements and constraints, so having that subject matter expertise is imperative.

8) When to launch?

No amount of testing is going to prepare your product for real-world users.

For this reason, it should help to look at your product launch as a series of small product exposures to the end users – as opposed to one big major event. Try to identify a small set of end users that will help test the product during development, and provide the kind of continuous feedback needed to ensure a successful product. Then slowly open this up to a larger and larger group. It’s better to roll the product out slowly than “launch” it all at once to everyone.

Launching a healthcare product is never easy…

Changing the “status quo” of the healthcare industry is one of the hardest things about launching a health tech product.

Healthcare professionals are notoriously busy and lacking in advanced technology skillsets. There is also a loud market out there – with hundreds of software solutions to vet through.

Throughout the process, make sure to ask yourself and your team questions like:

  • What are the most painful jobs to be done in healthcare today?
  • How is it done today? Does it work well?
  • What are they doing in their daily lives?
  • Why do they do it this way?
  • What could make this process easier for everyone?
  • How can we make a big enough difference to actually consider making a change?