Healthcare hasn’t always been considered a hotbed of innovation. Today, though, new market pressures, including the growing consumerization of the industry — along with an urgent need to implement new digital technologies and business models — are pushing payer and provider organizations to become more flexible and agile than ever before. Seeking cost savings, greater efficiencies and the ability to better respond to rapid changes in the market, growing numbers of healthcare industry stakeholders are becoming interested in applying a product mindset in their organizations.
In the future, the product mindset will be key for healthcare organizations that want to be patient-centric while leveraging economies of scope to lower costs. It will also make it possible to introduce new products and service lines faster by lowering the costs of failure, which, in turn, will empower stakeholders to experiment with new technologies that have the potential to improve care outcomes.
“Historically, the healthcare industry has gravitated toward a project approach,” said Jagan Ramachandran, assistant vice president for consulting and partner at Cognizant. “This approach tends to be myopic when it comes to outcomes and strategies for product launches and introducing new solutions to the market. The end result is that costs are higher than they need to be, and it’s harder to meet patients’ requirements and expectations.”
What does product mindset mean in healthcare?
Unlike a project mindset, in which funds are allocated for the entire life cycle of a particular project — so that it cannot subsequently be adapted to meet customer needs, to enhance business process repeatability or to achieve long-term objectives — a product mindset encourages agility and customer centricity.
As a concept, the project mindset comprises three core ideas:
- building efficiencies through economies of scope.
- viewing the product through a customer-centric lens.
- attaining agility by leveraging an innovative and fail-sale approach.
Instead of building a new foundation from the ground up for each and every project, a healthcare organization with a product mindset would instead leverage a platform approach in which components would be reused to save time and effort. Creating product families would lower costs, shorten product-development timelines and drive customer centricity. Stakeholders would work together to build long-term product road maps and issue frequent releases with incremental changes that continuously optimize the solution.
Delivering truly consumer-centric care
To view the product through a patient- or customer-centric lens, it’s essential to gather feedback early and often. This means conducting market research as well as collecting feedback from patients and clinicians or other internal stakeholders. Based on this feedback, the organization can build a foundational design that can then be tweaked and repurposed for different audiences or markets. It can also be adjusted and rereleased in new implementations later.
Because patients’ needs are ever-evolving, it’s essential that the product evolves along with them. Short, frequent release cycles enable healthcare organizations to meet the needs of different groups and demographics while adding enhancements that continually add more value over time.
How healthcare organizations can adopt a product mindset
Given all the benefits that applying a product mindset can bring, why haven’t most healthcare organizations already adopted this approach? The reality is that driving an organization-wide mindset shift is no easy task. This is a large-scale transformation that needs to happen at the business level, not just in IT.
“Often, there’s more interest in and knowledge of the product mindset among IT team members,” Ramachandran said. “In technology companies, the product mindset is widely adopted, so people who have moved into roles in healthcare from those organizations naturally want to bring the product approach with them. There also tend to be more people with agile skills and certifications in IT roles. But for successful product mindset adoption, business stakeholders need to be on board as well.”
Finding champions among people in patient or member experience-oriented roles who can help generate executive buy-in can be extremely helpful, particularly since involving finance early on is important. New product development should be neither solely IT-led nor business-driven, but instead should follow an outside-in process that looks to other industries that deliver similar solutions for examples. Initial prototyping can be done quickly, with subsequent releases, then repurposing components from that foundation.
The end result is that the organization will be better able to experiment and “fail fast,” enabling not only innovation but also the ability to better understand patients’ and members’ needs — and then meet them. This will set the stage for the development of new capabilities that can ultimately transform and enhance patient care.
Discover how Cognizant is helping healthcare organizations meet the expectations of the next generation of consumers by breaking down silos to deliver whole-person care. Visit our website to learn more.