Frost & Sullivan's Mind Xchange: Designing for the Patients

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Our everyday experiences are being modified through the application of mobile digital tools.

For example, apps have recently accelerated my trip through the line at customs, eased the ordering process from my favorite food trucks, and coached me to run farther and faster than I have before.

Today, both patients and caregivers hold an increasing expectation that the devices they use to manage care will operate with the same ease and usability as the digital products they use in their everyday lives.

The result is that medical technology is going consumer.

As healthcare moves to a home setting, patients require design elements that make the technology easier to use, are more intuitive, and more accessible.

At the 23rd Annual Medical Technologies Mind Xchange event by Frost & Sullivan, I was honored to moderate an interactive session titled “Designing for the Patients” in which I interviewed Kate Sharadin, Chief Commercial Officer and Co-Founder of eQuility.

A wearable device company, eQuility is developing a novel wellness ecosystem in the mental health market that consumers can customize and integrate into their everyday lives.

Throughout the session, Kate delivered a ton of great insight and zeroed in on key success factors for emerging technologies in the healthcare space.

  • When delivering a new product, define the “why” first, then build the how.

  • Validate the unmet needs of the consumer. Be careful not to fall into the trap of “solution excitement”; instead, do the hard work to truly understand the consumer, market dynamics and needs.

  • Explore the science and understand the data. Kate’s team spent time researching and understanding scientific literature, creating a competitive product landscape, and shadowing experts in neuroscience such as Eric Leuthardt, MD to create a foundation of knowledge, explore possible solutions, and begin to stake out IP.

  • From their research, Kate’s team discovered that it was important for the user to personalize their treatment; adapting the profile to match their needs. eQuility is currently building an experience that allows adaptability to individual users without being annoying or burdensome.

  • It is important that treatment be participatory; the patient can engage in learning about and documenting their condition and treatment experience. Kate’s team is building smartphone interactions that assess metrics and tracks user progress.

  • Wearable technology business models must avoid the pitfalls of the junk-drawer and look for ways to engage the customer on multiple levels.

  • Social sharing can drive engagement. Kate looks for ways to share individual user successes as a model for other users.

  • Consumer healthcare must engage the user. Offering virtuous cycles of feedback and social sharing are two ways to drive engagement. Be ready to spend extra time with the users during the development cycle to understand what they respond to best. At eQuility, Kate is looking to incorporate the social sharing aspect by allowing users to share their individual successes as a model for others.

  • Look at multiple technology platforms. For example, Kate’s team is looking beyond just smartphone compatibility and into VR experiences to further serve their patients.

Properly delivered, digital experiences feel like magic. Providers, payers, patients and entrepreneurs in the healthcare space want to serve that same magic to an industry in need of magic.