What happened? A year ago, your team released a new technology. The fanfare was there, the sales team rally was terrific. Now one year later sales results were significantly below forecast. Fingers are being pointed and an innovative technology did not get off the ground!
Has this ever happened with your team? Did this new technology that was full of potential get shelved? What might have changed to change this outcome?
Quality & clinical gap
The root cause of what may have happened here started way before the sales team ever got this product. The situation really started in the design process. Martie Moore of the Immersive Health Group and a former Chief Nursing Officer was on Med Tech Gurus Episode #20. Martie pointed out that most companies won’t immerse themselves into the clinical area that they are designing the product for. This situation creates the issue that clinicians will have to adapt to the product.
Martie points out this process is backwards. It should be that the product supports the practice by its design. The design of the product, therefore, should be intuitive to the clinical practice they are trying to address. The moment a clinician needs to adjust their practice to gain an outcome the product has a strike against it. The more severe this adjustment is, the less likely the product will succeed.
Martie also points out that most companies do not empathize with nursing. Companies need to realize that all nursing functions are high risk. Nurses have normalized this as part of their everyday practice, in a sense making the difficult look easy. So product developers need to understand that if there is a protocol that requires the RN to step back and take an action that is not part of their standard approach or process, there is a potential for error.
Kathleen Vollman in Med Tech Gurus Episode #23 points out that the product design must really fit into the normal clinical workflow. The new concept must ensure that it really helps the clinician consistently do the right thing.
Martie, made a similar point and suggested for example that color coding for key steps or differentiating steps made this easier for clinicians that are immersed in life saving procedures. Simple steps like this really help with product acceptance.
To Focus Group or Not to Focus Group?
Many companies feel that a focus group will mitigate this issue. The issue as both Martie and Kathleen pointed out is that a focus group can lead to biased outcomes based on how it is designed. They can lead participants to the conclusion that the company wants.
Martie pointed out that it is much better to “immerse and analyze”. This is imperative to capturing the workflow challenges that these clinicians are facing every day. Too often companies expect human intervention to be the step that bridges gaps in the technology. This can great significant acceptance issues for the technology.
It is only after this immersion and complete and comprehensive understanding of the workflow and how your product effects it that the focus group comes into play, this total understanding of the clinical area will help craft the right type of focus group experience. It is also imperative that the company does NOT fall love with their technology. One has to be prepared for the focus group attendees to rip it apart!
If the company keeps an open mind and LISTENS, it is likely that the clinicians in this group will make your product significantly better. The company must be prepared for some redesign work. The company must be willing to invest the dollars and time into the changes. If the product development team is willing to make this investment, then you are likely to achieve the key goal. A product that supports the practice.
If you do not you may hear the dreaded line from your clinical customer;
“THIS WAS DESIGNED BY AN ENGINEER, RIGHT?”