PreparedHealth’s Prescription for Highly-Engaging User Experiences
Well before the company’s formal founding, its Founders Ashish V. Shah and David Coyle were acutely aware of the challenges facing most healthcare IT products. Having worked together in a prior healthcare IT company, and with decades of experience, they understood that most systems are broken, outdated, and far from “user-friendly.”
Armed with that knowledge, Ashish and David had a vision to create a disruptive approach that prioritized the user experience and applied behavioral design techniques to create a product that could be used seamlessly, every day, by both patients and healthcare providers. They set out to flip the complicated, heavy-handed healthtech status quo on its head by building something simple, effective, and customer-centric that could work within care providers’ existing workflows. The result was enTouch™, a HIPAA-compliant network that allows everyone involved in a patient’s care to collaborate to help the patient get healthy, faster.
Here’s how they did it:
Recruit an Outsider
Ashish and David recruited Erin Karam as Chief Technology Officer to help build their business and execute their product vision. Before joining PreparedHealth, Erin spent her career architecting large-scale systems across a variety of industries including cleantech, insurance, and enterprise software. She joined the team as an “outsider” without healthcare experience, but did have experience working in complicated industries, leading teams, and simplifying complex problems. Coming in without industry experience helped her view the industry’s problems with a fresh set of eyes and without bias.
Now, along with her rapidly-growing product and engineering team, Erin works to create simple, intuitive, user-centric products in an industry that’s traditionally offered the opposite.
“We have a different approach than others in the space: we bring consumer-grade experiences to healthcare,” Erin says. “The ease of use and familiarity our users experience with our product really reduces friction for adoption.”
Erin knew that simplicity would be necessary so that caregivers would actually use their product, and would also be a key differentiator for the company: “Healthcare has traditionally been handcuffed by overly-complicated technology tools that focus on trying to do too much – we focus on simple tools that work,” Erin says. And by going after the post-acute care space, a mostly-untapped market, the team knew there was a blue ocean opportunity ahead to truly affect how caregivers communicate, and how patients get and stay healthy after leaving the hospital.
Full Immersion in the Problem Space
With a vision defined, Erin and her team began the critical task of determining exactly what “customer-centric” meant for caregivers in the post-acute space. As true practitioners of user-led design, they started with hands-on research. An early enterprise partner, BAYADA Home Health Care, agreed to work hand-in-hand to make sure the products PreparedHealth was building would be products their caregivers would actually use. Over many months, the PreparedHealth team repeatedly worked alongside medical professionals including nurses, therapists, and other home care professionals to develop a deep understanding of clinical workflows. They spent time walking through the early product, gathering insight on not just what users said they wanted, but how they actually used the product, and iterating based on that feedback.
“We spent a lot of time testing small parts of the product: we put it in caregivers’ hands, we watched how they used it. We sat in their offices and watched them work. We interviewed and talked to them in person, iterating in real-time,” Erin says. And it did take time – Erin admits there was some pushback initially: “The last thing we wanted was for the product to feel like an EMR or another tool to document clinical notes. Eventually we found the sweet spot of how to properly complement caretakers’ workflows with our real-time communication platform.”
The PreparedHealth team made it a point to weave enTouch™ directly into actions that were already happening in the post-acute space. “We’re the fabric connecting these different care providers who, before enTouch, had to rely on fax or phone tag,” Erin says.
This process was not limited to the initial MVP for the product, but rather became a foundational building block in the company culture. The product and engineering team today continues this practice with regular trips to the field. User testing, observations, interviews, and co-working are routine activities for the team. With this groundwork in place, the team is well equipped to deliver the consumer-grade experience their users now expect.
Build a Team Capable of Sustaining the Magic
Aside from hours of hands-on research and communication with customers, Erin credits much of the progress they’ve made to building a high-performing, highly-diverse team. While the company’s founders are healthcare vets with 60+ years of combined healthcare experience, the rest of the team is “incredibly diverse by design.” They’ve brought together a top-notch group of experts in emerging tech, IoT, and design, as well as professionals from across the healthcare spectrum. This includes employees with experience in social work, enterprise software, and large healthcare systems. As Erin says: “we need people with a broad variety of personal and professional experiences to bring the right perspective to our product.”
Diversity of thought and experience is one thing. The other critical piece to scale is finding people with key similar traits: an insatiable curiosity, a desire to learn, and an ambition to work on something meaningful that will change people’s lives for the better. Each teammate relates to the company mission in a personal way. Working at PreparedHealth comes with the responsibility of challenging norms, having and sharing opinions, and being a thought leader in every aspect of the job, and being motivated to build the company and team. “This applies not only to thinking critically about our product, but about where to have our next happy hour,” Erin says.
If you’re interested in joining the PreparedHealth team, take a look at their open roles here.
November 16, 2017