Ensuring longevity for digital health solutions means getting past v 1.0

July 14, 2020 Brian Flatley

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Ensuring longevity for digital health solutions means getting past v 1.0

The pharmaceutical industry is witnessing immense innovation – with the ABPI estimating annual investment will reach $181 billion by 2022.

But as the pace of change increases, one thing always stays the same: the need to ensure that innovation always results in the maximum possible benefit for all stakeholders.

There’s been plenty of discussion about how human-centric design can help in maximizing the value of new solutions. The true mark of success, however, is finding balance: that is, meeting as many end-user needs as possible while aligning internally with company strategy and adding value at every step. Not only does that mean better results for patients and clinicians, it also gives internal stakeholders a reason to commit beyond the first pilot.

To that end, when creating a digital health solution, it’s important to stress-test your ideas methodically and incorporate real-world insights during the development process, including testing the internal value proposition with senior business leaders. This upfront process ensures all stakeholders, both internal and external, recognize the value of the proposed solution and champion it – not only for the initial pilot, but for longer term success, too. By putting in the legwork upfront, you can save endless modifications later on.  

Here’s why good solutions guidance matters.


Putting your stakeholders at the center of decision making

Put simply, the idea of solutions guidance is to challenge perceptions when developing a treatment program; ensuring you take all considerations into account and unlock the best, most effective solution for all your stakeholders.

It’s a quick and focused process that creates a solid framework for your ideas and makes sure they are comprehensive and based on the realities of patients and partners on the ground.

This kind of detail is critically important further down the road. Not only does this analysis allow you to make your solution more relevant to healthcare providers, it can also boost future adoption and continued use by both patients and clinicians. As for businesses, it ensures solutions will align with any key strategic business goals – meaning you can track your progress via internal and external KPIs, get the senior leadership buy-in that it needs to succeed, and the required continued investment to iterate and adapt the solution into the future. 


The business benefits of solutions guidance

Taking a ‘solutions guidance’ approach rather than jumping head-first into solutions development has a range of broader benefits.

Firstly, it allows you to hone in on the most effective solution: By avoiding the ‘magpie effect’ – where an innovative approach is inadvertently prioritized over actual patient outcomes or the needs of healthcare providers and businesses – you can deliver solutions that actually make a real difference for clinicians and patients.

Solutions guidance also makes it easier to adapt any potential solution for different markets. With adaptability crucial to ensuring the adoption of new digital health solutions on a regional or global scale, in-depth solutions guidance gives an insight into individual markets early on in the solutions planning process, so you can create market-adaptable solutions. This prevents the risk of entering a new market, only to find a given program isn’t suitable for legal, practical, or cultural reasons.

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, by taking the time to better understand the everyday challenges facing your stakeholders, and the solutions that will help them overcome these challenges, you’ll drive longer term adoption.

Here’s how it works in practice.


How solutions guidance works

The number (and types) of people involved in the solutions process may vary, but generally, it follows three key steps.

The first step is to come together with a ‘business champion’ to understand investment rationale, how return on investment will be measured, and who key internal stakeholders are, from both an operational and a “buy-in” perspective. The purpose of this is to outline clearly what business success looks like. No business wants the first version of a potential solution left to gather dust on the app store shelf because it didn’t align with business strategy, and therefore failed to get long-term investment.

From there, we work with our internal clinical teams to analyze existing patient journeys and care pathways, from diagnosis right through to adoption and treatment cycles. At this point, we also work with behavioral scientists to consider any emotional, social, or behavioral insights which may impact on any potential solution.

Our next step is to work with healthcare professionals and patients to validate the clinical journey maps and patient experiences. We also conduct our own primary research on a local, regional, and global scale, as necessary, to fill gaps in our understanding.

This thorough approach ensures any prospective solution does exactly what it needs to before it goes forward to ideation and concept workshops. Then, when the solution goes to market, you’re fully acquainted with the ins and outs of the problem that your solution addresses – meaning you’re better placed to communicate the benefits to patients and clinicians alike.



We all want to unlock the very best care for patients and create solutions that really work for clinicians.

No matter what methodology you use to understand your stakeholders, it’s important to involve as many of them as possible in the development process. The solutions guidance process gives us the space to rigorously sense-test ideas from the very beginning and weave in all the learnings we can – bringing us one step closer to the best possible solution.


Brian Flatley

Head of Consulting

S3 Connected Health


To find out more on solutions guidance, and other ways you can drive adoption rates, download our whitepaper:
Digital patient solutions: the secret to delivering and securing adoption: