Innovation and creativity are at the heart of any groundbreaking healthcare product or solution. However, the process for innovation needs to be done right. It is easy to get caught up in an idea for a solution before fully understanding the problem that needs to be solved. In the worst case, this can mean hundreds of hours spent going down the wrong path, leading to suboptimal results or failure and no true solution for the end-user.
Understanding the customer needs and pain points is an essential part of healthcare innovation, and it needs to be the very first step in the process. Our approach, Demand-Driven Innovation™, aims to understand the problem first before building out the solution. This ensures that the process leads towards testing and creating customer-centric products that actually solve problems.
WHat is Demand-Driven Innovation™?
Demand-Driven Innovation™ combines design thinking with co-development and venture scanning. We developed and use this approach to create a process that enables all healthcare players – corporate organizations, healthcare systems, startups, and entrepreneurs – to gain insight into their end users and build solutions that truly address their pain points.
The goal of Demand-Driven Innovation™ is twofold:
- Create a set of well-articulated customer needs and problem statements that encapsulates the value and validates the necessity to move forward.
- Validate customer needs and objectives as well as problems / root causes that can be addressed through hypothesis building and testing.
Demand-Driven Innovation™ is our method of problem-solving that flips the script from solution first to problem first. Instead of building out a solution right away, Demand-Driven Innovation™ asks creators to pause from their excitement and develop a true understanding of the problem. From here possible solutions can be created to test against the pain point. This specific approach to innovation ensures only tested solutions are brought to market before getting in too deep.
Our Demand-Driven Innovation™ process:
- Conduct customer interviews and observations. Take time to talk to potential customers and/or observe them in their natural environment to understand their needs and pain points.
- Create customer personas. Research, compile and develop fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on the data you collected in the first step.
- Identify root-causes through structured exercises. This involves using a variety of tools and techniques to identify the root causes of the problems your customers are facing.
- Build hypotheses and test to validate. This involves creating hypotheses about what solutions might solve the problems you identified, and then testing those hypotheses to see if they are correct.
- Analyze data to support or reject hypotheses. This involves collecting and analyzing data to determine whether your hypotheses are correct.
It’s important to note the ways that Demand-Driven Innovation™ is different than design thinking alone. Design thinking still focuses on the solution to the problem, not the problem itself. By combining design thinking principles with co-development and venture scanning, we create a problem-focused process that enables organizations to gain insight into their end users and build solutions that truly address their pain points.
INnovation misses the mark and how Demand-Driven Innovation™ can help
Let’s take a look at a situation that could’ve been prevented with the use of Demand-Driven Innovation™.
A children’s hospital in Atlanta installed a phone service that allowed patients to be immediately connected to translators for thousands of languages. However, the phone’s instructions were only in English, making it unusable for the very people it was meant to help. It sounded like a great idea on paper, but it was built without truly understanding the full scope of the problem they were solving.
If the hospital had used Demand-Driven Innovation™, they would have first conducted customer interviews and observations to understand the needs and pain points of non-English speaking patients. They would then have identified the root cause of the problem, which was that the instructions were not in the patients’ native language.
The hospital could then have built a hypothesis about what solution might solve the problem, such as providing instructions in multiple languages or creating a video tutorial. They could then have tested the hypothesis to see if it was correct.
By using Demand-Driven Innovation™, the hospital could have avoided wasting time and resources on a solution that did not solve the problem and that did not meet the needs of the very patients it was trying to help. They could have instead been on the right path to create a solution that was truly customer-centric and met the needs of non-English speaking patients.
Bringing structure to the uncertainty of innovation
Our Demand-Driven Innovation™ method emphasizes identifying and understanding customer needs before developing solutions. Our expert process consists of creating well-articulated problem statements and validating them through hypothesis testing. Organizations that use our Demand-Driven Innovation™ method can avoid wasted efforts and create more effective solutions.
The additional benefits of using Demand-Driven Innovation™:
- Increased customer satisfaction. By focusing on solving real customer problems, Demand-Driven Innovation™ can help you create products and services that your customers love.
- Reduced time to market. By understanding the problem first, you can avoid wasting time and resources on solutions that don’t solve the problem.
- Improved profitability. By creating products and services that your customers love, you can increase sales and profits.
Now is the time to enhance your innovation process by adding the structure of our proven approach. No short-cuts. No guessing. No leaving anything to chance. Incorporating our Demand-Driven Innovation™ into new healthcare initiatives will help ensure your solutions are truly customer-centric – and thereby increase your chances of truly transforming the future of healthcare.