Designing to Succeed
These 5 companies put the patient at the center of design to inspire outstanding innovation.
Understanding the human aspects of living with a condition is in many ways less straightforward than drug development. Everyone experiences their health challenges differently, and it’s clear this can’t be designed for in a lab.
That’s why collaborating with the patient brings benefits. Here are three lessons we learned from this year’s crop of patient innovators:
1. Ongoing engagement with the patient makes iterative design possible, ideal for mHealth projects, where it is relatively easy to deploy updates through app store and Google Play. Merck deployed this strategy to great effect in the product development of their app ‘Second Voice’, an inspiring use of tech to help patients with difficulty speaking.
Patients can use the app to quickly draw on over 130 pre-programmed messages, including dedicated messages to communicate pain, or they are even able to add their own. By listening to patient needs and designing a tool that helps in both a clinical and home setting, Merck have created a tool that really resonates with patients; it has hit 2,500 downloads in just two months.
In a similar vein, the team behind Roche’s diabetes app, Gluci-Chek, which quickly analyses the carbohydrate intake of meals, paneled patients online to ask them which features would best help them manage their condition. The team attributes the app’s success to engaging patients directly, and allowing them anonymously submit feedback; which eliminates the bias from researchers in perceived patient needs.
2. Novartis showed you don’t always need a shiny new technology to be innovative, with their program to improve access to employment for young professionals with Multiple Sclerosis. Younger people are disproportionately affected by MS, and diagnosis can make it doubly challenging to start building a career.
Beyond just co-founding their ‘Believe & Achieve’ work placement program in partnership with the European Multiple Scleroris Platform, they took leadership in prioritizing the first cohort for open positions within their organization. It is an inspiring example of the potential for pharma to help patients beyond just product-focused services, while building on one of pharma’s unique strengths. After all, is there anyone else better placed to create employment opportunities that take into account the challenges of ill-health?
Teva also responded to the demographic challenges of MS and designed an mHealth app for patients being treated with Copaxone. Patients are expected to self-administer with a complicated injection process that can be painful if performed incorrectly. This delivery method was driving non-adherence, accounting for over 50% of patients who failed to take the medicine as prescribed. Teva worked closely with 15 patients to pilot an app that was tailored to each patient’s medical history, to help them take the drug correctly and avoid skin irritations.
3. It might be tempting to push your pilot to get to scale, but it will pay off in the future if you take your time. The success of Sanofi's MOSKI Kit, a collection of educational games to improve mosquito nets use, depended on creating a strong personal connection with children in order to stand a chance of creating behavioral change. Sanofi did this by investing in involving local NGOs, teachers and school children in the design process. The result was an innovative educational process that developed children to become advocates and themselves spread awareness within their own communities.
By in road-testing the program across 4 countries to collect user feedback, the MOSKI KIT team ensured created materials that resonated with their audience. By not rushing to scale they created a more impactful product, with evaluations carried out in Togo, Niger, Burkina Faso and Benin showing dramatic improvements in awareness.
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