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by Rich Herrington

Four Health Innovation Challenges

Healthcare must invest in innovation to streamline infrastructure and meet the informed patient’s need for higher engagement and collaborative treatment. HIMSS 2018 Technology Innovation in Healthcare survey revealed that the top priorities for healthcare companies were operations and patient experience. While healthcare companies realize the need to innovation, many face internal challenges that hinder the progress of innovation projects or create myopic solutions inadequate to address the end user’s needs, wasting precious resources and revenue potential.

By carefully examining potential pitfalls on the road to health innovation, leaders can create an organizational culture to cultivate change. Proactively solving internal challenges will ensure a higher level of return on investment for health innovation initiatives. Here, we examine four innovation challenges and resolutions.

Complacency is an issue

It's not uncommon to meet resistance when suggesting changes to processes and infrastructure. The fear of upsetting the status quo by challenging existing technology investments can be a significant deterrent to innovation. Healthcare has typically been slow to adopt new technology—companies may be hesitant to invest in new or original ideas as new systems take time to implement and be learned by end users. Compliancy requirements add another layer of complexity that must be addressed with the arrival of any new technology.

However, complacency is not a sustainable way to survive in healthcare and companies must meet – however reluctant—with a thoughtful planning process to ensure requirements are captured and ideas are fully tested prior to launch. A three-step process should be employed to any innovation projects. First ideate, by involving stakeholders from across the business in collaborative sessions to crowdsource ideas and generate viable solutions. Iterate develops a proof of concept (PoC) for end-user testing, agilely incorporating feedback into the product or service. Finally deliver, implements the first version of the solution to end-users, collecting usage metrics for ongoing improvements.

Lack of diversity in product input

Without collaboration from departments and stakeholders across the company, solutions will be incomplete or similar to previous innovations. For example, a healthcare company may be looking for a method to increase patient engagement, especially around high-risk patients. A patient communication software, based on a mobile phone app, could be a viable solution. However, elderly patients, who are most often in the high-risk category, are less inclined to interact with complicated technology. Without the correct input from subject matter experts (SMEs) and clinical staff, the solution may be ineffective at increasing patient engagement.

Ideation brings stakeholders together to uncover customer pain points from an empathetic, human-centric perspective and develop solutions to specifically address the identified issues. This design-thinking approach invites active interdepartmental collaboration around a central focus—the patient. The solutions created from design thinking have a greater level of user engagement and acceptance.

Using a platform to manage the ideate stage of the innovation process can facilitate discussions from stakeholders, regardless of location. For example, if the clinical staff are not available during ideation workshops or planning sessions, remote feedback can be collected and captured. Creators can use the platform to present and examine new ideas, then stakeholders and SMEs from across the company can easily vote on possible solutions and accept a winner.

Stifling fear of financial risk

Innovation’s greatest detractor is financial investment. Companies are averse to investing in an unproven solution as the risk of a product or service failing in-market is high. This alone can stifle the innovation process.

Companies can mitigate risk by creating a proof of concept (PoC) to prove the feasibility of innovative solutions. Working prototype components must be tested by end users to gain feedback and the PoC is changed accordingly. The solution is continuously refined during this iteration stage.

Once the development team finalizes the prototype to meet end user acceptance in a test environment, the solution is ready to be released as a minimum viable product (MVP). The MVP is not intended to be a final version but allows the development and product teams to receive immediate feedback and validation from end-users.

Creating PoCs and MVPs and continuously improving the product or service based on test and actual patient feedback allow companies to ensure the investment in innovation is used efficiently and the end solutions meet with greater market acceptance.

Innovation stagnation

Complacency is the most significant hurdle to overcome when a healthcare or life science company aims to innovate. As new ideas can be challenging to generate, and staff attention can be short-sighted, many successful projects wither on the vine before they have a chance to take root.

Using a three-step innovation method—ideate, iterate, and deliver—provides the best option to combat innovation stagnation. An advanced communication tool, such as SoftServe's Innovation Platform, gives healthcare and life science companies the ability to uncover business problems, propose solutions, create a PoC, and deliver the MVP.

With over 2,000 successful projects completed, SoftServe has been the trusted product development and design partner to many of the most innovative and respected companies. Ready to build robust and lasting patient relationships? To learn how our team of innovators, experience designer experts, and healthcare developers empower clients to transform healthcare and life science companies, download our whitepaper.

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