In the first part of my reflections I shared some of our development focus areas of 2013, like renewal of our user interfaces and mobile apps for our existing solutions.
How we develop innovations
But of course we are using technology also to build net new solutions, both for healthcare professionals (e.g. physicians) as well as for patients or their families and friends. To address the concerns of our existing users and especially when designing solutions for consumers the traditional development approach was no longer sufficient. We need to get a much better idea of the “real” issues, spend more time to listen and observe to understand the problem before we move to the possible solutions.
One of my favorite personal experiences in 2013: a large university hospital together with their media partner approached us to discuss a complete new way of interacting with pregnant women. The idea to move from paper-based information to engaging with an App was born. During the discussion however, we discovered that we were actually talking of much more than the “pregnancy app”. For sure we needed to offer choice in terms of devices, because if we would offer the app only on one particular platform we would exclude a good part of the intended user group. Second, the university hospital discovered that the major benefit of moving away from booklets and flyers would be the potential to engage with their customers in both directions. So instead of only providing medical information from the hospital to the consumer, Apps could also open a new communication channel from the consumer to the hospital. From an IT perspective this is clearly an indicator to already foresee integration to backend systems. Third, the ultimate goal is of course to proof that such improved patient-physician relationship has indeed an evidence on clinical outcomes – therefore the solution architecture needed also to include good analytical and reporting capabilities. We are currently in favor of using SAP HANA Cloud platform as the foundation, mainly because we could successfully set up a working prototype in less than 14 days.
But technological feasibility is but one dimension of successful innovation. We also rely on methods to discover the “true” (and sometimes “hidden”) needs of consumers, especially true for such an emotional topic like pregnancy. Empathy and powers of observation to me is at the core of Design Thinking. My personal experience with many design thinking workshops I did in 2013 that they can be quite intense and exhausting, but also very funny. And the energy that you put in during the group work is clearly a great investment – even weeks after most team members will still feel energized and highly motivated.
For the pregnancy app design thinking has revealed that we don’t needed another “9-month-project” app, but rather a virtual, trusted, and reliable companion, before, during, and after pregnancy. And of course this does not only include the high quality medical content that the university hospital stands for, but additional information and services that go beyond pure medicine.
Another great example of innovation in Healthcare and a personal highlight of 2013 was the SAP InnoJam in Amsterdam – a hackathon where participants have less than 48 hours to go from problem to (prototype) solution. In contrast to other events, SAP’s innovation event is not intended for soon-to-become millionaires.
But if you look at the faces of our winning CloudSitter team, or even better, participate next year yourself, you’ll understand the real rewards…
My personal lesson learned: design thinking and co-innovation works. And it works best with a diverse team mixed from customers, partners and vendors. Having said that, I would like to express a big thank you to all the great people I was privileged to co-innovate with in 2013.
In the last part of my 2013 reflection I will discuss some examples for disruptive innovation in Healthcare.
Best regards from Walldorf,