According to the report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, only 1/3 of current eHealth apps are based on medical conditions management whereas 2/3 of those are aimed at overall wellbeing. Among them are mainly fitness and nutrition. But even though disease prevention is utterly important, today’s market demand for various medical management disorders is pretty high.
Apparently patients with long-term conditions cost the world a great deal and it’s the high time for cost-effective innovations.
Yet, with all the variety of multiple IT solutions, particularly eHealth applications being produced literally everyday, only those relevant to target audiences really matter in the long run.
Here are a few basic tips offered as practical advice:
1. Define a current problem
Find out the latest clinical needs you are about to fulfil. It can be done through communication with people delivering actual healthcare services regularly and of course the patients. Individuals or entire teams, funders, researchers, support groups or even charity organizations as well as professional literature may all become of great help.
To build such relationships you may, for example, start attending multiple health conferences for clinicians with buyers presenting different eHealth related topics. Come by to publicly open events and note the most exciting ideas. That may be your shortest path to relevant innovation – from best practice directly to the digital format. You may as well check out funding competitions in health innovation and learn if they are in search of technology providers.
2. Determine problem size and specifics
It is crucial to understand the nature of the healthcare problem, be this local or international. For this purpose, many approaches may be exploited both online and offline.
On the web you will find plenty of data on prevailing diseases, challenges and costs in healthcare. Clinicians will provide you with up-to-date specific information, and community organizations are often aware of the current situation with service delivery. Performance of a particular service may be measured by regular audits, and local service providers usually possess this type of data – get in touch with them. However, you will have to learn reading between the lines in order to detect the problem, because it won’t always be on the surface.
3. Get to know existing success and failure stories
When you plan on a new amazing solution for basically any industry, you need to get familiar with what is out there already. If you intend to really fit in, full understanding of the service delivery specifics is essential.
4. Verify relevancy of your offer with industry experts
Some innovations make no sense in becoming digital unless they optimize the process of service delivery – make it faster and easier to access. If a quick phone call or a short appointment with a nurse is a convenient solution to a specific case, then there is obviously no need for an app. Thus patient reps and clinicians may provide you with useful input. Keep aiming at developing eHealth solutions that save resources, induce treatment, monitor, educate patients, or satisfies in any other way the clinical need that was previously unmet.
A good idea is to analyze your concept together with target patients or a clinical team and try to approach it by contradiction – is there a way to avoid using technology? If none whatsoever, then go with it.
5. Research the market
It is easy to assume that this type of activity is usually done at a very start. However, this is not the case when it comes to eHealth. Why? You first define a clinical requirement, and only then investigate it.
For instance, by seeing a lot of apps for people who survived cardiac arrest you may assume the market is oversaturated. Nonetheless there may be a significant gap in specific needs of the users that get similar product from every provider but never what would really fulfil their needs.
So, check out technology trends – your solution has to either add to current wearable tech or be an entirely new type of service delivery. In other words - stand out.
Explore your competitors within the same field. If they are at market while being evidence based, you may stand a chance as well.
6. Consider industry peculiarities and play along
Healthcare industry in the world is known as very slow for changes. There are specialists in change management who help deal with the changes to the entire given sector, which happens quite regularly. Despite that or as a consequence, clinicians are extremely careful toward new working approaches and fresh ideas.
Care enough to gather reviews on your proposition from healthcare target audience. Analyze how your innovation may affect their jobs, both positively and negatively. Eliminate full dissatisfaction, instead be ready to sacrifice a few features for the bigger perspective in the future.
7. Prove financial efficiency
Put together all of the above to show potential profitability of your project. Stress security, scalability, reliability, feasibility and some other ‘abilities’ to help you promote your solution as a revenue generating innovation.
Bottom line - eHealth is a vast field for innovation. Its potential is incredible, but it must be approached thoroughly, no rush!