TopTip for mHealth developers: don’t think it’s as easy as just asking Clinicians to tell you what to build

Steve Jobs ask customers what they want Facetime

In the ideation process that I use in my consulting work helping companies develop successful mHealth services I find it very helpful to make teams aware that building mHealth strategies focused on what Clinicians tell them they want is a classic route to market failure. Key to this is helping groups realise that most people paid to work in the healthcare still think it is an industry that should be focused on providing office visits, have no idea that the 2,000 year old model is broken and have few insights into how the application of Mobile (the newest and most poorly understood Mass Media) will transform the tools that Patients and Carers use to maintain their health.

To try and help groups through this here are a few exercises I’ll try:

1) I get the group to look to their own mobile phones and tell me how much time they spent learning how to use it and how much time they spend using it. I then pick the unfortunate individual who has claimed to have spent the least amount of time (never be an outlier!) and show them how completely wrong they are. Most people are astounded when you show them how much time they’ve actually spent tending to their mobile – I could easily teach you to play the violin if you’d put in the same amount of practice.

2) Next with the help of a flip chart I try and have them suggest to me a list of things they wish their mobile could do. Sometimes I get brilliant ideas (normally from the school leaver that’s been brought into the meeting to fetch coffees but hung around because she thought it interesting!) but normally it quickly becomes obvious that some in the room are struggling to think of anything, others struggle to articulate their ideas and for others there will be a few things that they really wish for that I can reveal are already available (but they just haven’t been interested enough to try to use them).

3) Taking a closer look at the good ideas put forward I then try to explain why many of them don’t make a whole lot of sense to the trillion $ mobile industry because although we’ll all be familiar with using our mobiles most of us aren’t aware of how the mobile industry makes money (check out the Insiders Guide to Mobile) and the demands of other partners in the ecosystem eg. a phone that never breaks is going to slow replacement cycles and discourage customers from buying a replacement and kill sales of over priced accident insurance policy subscriptions that can make more money for retailers than you buying the phone.

4) The key take away from this self reflection on our own use of the most personal piece of technology we all have and continuously use is that spending lots of time doing something for normal people rarely means that they are spending anytime at all thinking about how that technology could be improved so that it better serves their needs.

5) I then attempt to get the group to list out the things in healthcare that they think we’ll all look back on in ten years and consider it to be unthinkable that we used to do that. I’ve listed some of those here to give you the general idea.

6) I then attempt to get the group to pick the one of these things they think is most likely to happen (it’s normally video consults or seamlesssly connected medical devices but that might be due to a bias I introduce) and map out how they think mobile will make this all achievable. With the right nudges it really does help groups realise the breakneck speed with which mobile technology is evolving but also highlights the way the Healthcare Professionals who are working with today’s systems will be disrupted and the reasons these smart caring individuals have for not seeing the opportunity and implementing this better future for Patients today.

What tips/tricks do you use or have you seen used to help others create effective mHealth Strategies?

About David Doherty
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1 Response to TopTip for mHealth developers: don’t think it’s as easy as just asking Clinicians to tell you what to build

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