Lean product development is a capital efficient process to develop and bring technology products to market. I will walk you through how to bring your technology product to market in the US healthcare market, the challenges associated with doing so in healthcare and how to overcome these challenges.

My approach builds on the Stanford Biodesign and Lean Product Playbook Development processes, among other mental models. I see the steps to bringing an innovative product to healthcare as follows.

  1. Choose a market
  2. Identify a high pain point need
  3. Create a learning lab to prototype and co-design solutions with your key customers and stakeholders
  4. Find and build relationships with network influencers
  5. Assess prototypes based on market, regulatory, reimbursement / financing, revenue, technology risks
  6. Build your alpha product with customer feedback
  7. Architect and execute on a service design blueprint around your product to achieve scale
  8. Iterate on all the above

The scope of this post is on the first step: choosing the market within healthcare that you will address. You can’t go after $3 trillion+ in spend.

How do you pick a market? Below are a few approaches, that can be either used in isolation or some combination:

  1. Think like an investor: Find a small, but growing market that your future product/service can ride. It helps to look at industry trend reports like the ones Rock Health publishes.
  2. Analyze disease demographics and trends: You can get a sense for epidemiology by using simple tools like the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation Global Burden of Disease comparison tool.
  3. Identify specific stakeholders within the healthcare system that are feeling significant pains. For example, many physicians are now feeling the pain of Electronic Health Record data entry and diminished autonomy as they are increasingly being employed by hospitals.
  4. Locate where the dollars are being allocated and where they are starting to grow in spend: One way to do this is to look at healthcare spending reports year over year for a sense of cost trends. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) puts out a regular report on national health expenditures that can be quite useful.
  5. Find a market that is resonates with your own pain points with the healthcare system: You will have a pain point with the healthcare system, find one that you care so much about that you would drop everything to fix it.
  6. Identify markets, disease areas, and stakeholders where few competing companies are building products / services in: but make sure you understand the reason few market participants are in this area.
  7. Find markets where data is in short supply: Data has value in the healthcare system to quite a few stakeholders, so if you can create a new form of data that does not exist and fills a need, you can find a market.

You’ll notice that I don’t mention riding a broader technology trend in the above suggested methods. It often takes a long time for new technology to achieve common acceptance and adoption, you can’t throw blockchain and AI at a problem, and hope that these technologies will be adopted.

In the next post in this series, I will present a few strategies for identifying a need within the market you have picked with a heavy focus on speaking to and observing users.

(cross-posted on Medium: https://medium.com/@sdimantha/lean-product-development-in-digital-health-part-1-choosing-a-market-d8f8f3b53a05 )