Product Design for the Healthcare Sector

Foto del autor

By Damián

February 2, 2023

At Arionkoder we have a genuine interest in healthcare technology because of its huge potential to impact humanity’s wellbeing. Yet, there are plenty of failed digital products in the healthcare industry. That’s in part because healthcare is a vast problem space, with an intricate relationship between institutions and stakeholders where a continuous stream of scientific progress and innovations frequently confronts a tech-skeptic, change-averse, and regulated market.

On top of that, the current perception from experts in the healthcare industry is that healthcare-focused digital products are only adding to the fragmentation of an already atomized ecosystem, which makes health providers’ and patients’ lives more difficult. We attribute this to tech companies trying to fix healthcare by applying simplistic approaches that derive from the start-up world without taking into account the particular complexities it has.

As challenging as it is, we believe that contributing to fix the healthcare system must be always part of our core objectives: its direct relationship with wellbeing make solutions more and more demanded each day. And we know we are not the only ones on that wagon:

“I believe that healthcare is the problem of our generation, and if we don’t fix it then it will break the bank, our health, or both. And I believe it deserves the world’s best and brightest minds working on fixing it. But how we go about fixing healthcare matters.”

— @oliver_kharraz in his Fast Company article.

Let’s scratch the surface of the Healthcare landscape

While there is a shared interest in helping save lives, once we start scratching the surface of the healthcare industry we find deep and conflicting interests and motivations. It certainly transcends the simple logic of “Group A wants better health, while Group B wants money”.

A simplistic model, from which a lot of digital products could start.
After scratching just a bit of the surface, it starts to feel more complex.

But the problem space we are getting into is already mediated by humanity and its technologies. There are artifacts, organizations, structures, and policies that make simple transactions much more complex than what they initially seem to be. Just think for a moment about everything that is behind a doctor’s prescription. Seriously, take your time, stop reading, and think.

Now that you have taken the time to think by yourself, and except you’re an expert in the matter, let me tell you that there probably are still more aspects involved in it than you previously analyzed. Have you thought of the clinic system tracking the prescription? Have you thought of co-morbidities and the patient’s medical history? And potential new treatments the physician might be unsure of recommending? Have you thought of medical councils and trusted colleagues? Or arrangements affecting the provider? What about preferences of the patient, support communities, and clinical trials?

A more realistic mapping of the problem.

This prescription case is just a small example, but you get the idea: almost everything in the healthcare space has more layers to it and is more difficult than what it may appear to be at a glance.

And here comes Human-Centered Product Design: instead of letting this catch you by surprise in the middle of your project’s progress, you can use it to deal with its complexities in advance.

How Human-Centered Product Design can help

Human-centered Product Design is focused on shaping Digital Products in a way that puts the end-user’s goals and needs at the center while optimizing business outcomes and keeping awareness of human and societal complexities. This helps refine strategies by understanding the market and potential users more deeply. Putting end-users at the center of the design process will ease the product’s adoption and keep you focused. It will also contribute to the success of your product by embracing complexity and keeping the business goals in the picture. But of course: the hard part is using these techniques to integrate your product into an existing reality. And the reality of healthcare has a huge list of challenges that we’ve started to map.

Part 2 detailing these challenges is already up. You can read it here. And don’t hesitate to reach out to us to analyze your digital healthcare product and map your way to success!