Product management in the healthcare space has its own unique challenges and opportunities. Products in this sector must be both efficacious and commercially viable. How can product leaders thread the needle and deliver products that save lives? In this talk, Exact Sciences Global Product and Strategy Leader Vidya Venkatesh dives into what makes commercially successful and impactful healthcare products.

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On making successful and impactful products for the healthcare space

The need for improved healthcare outcomes is both massive and urgent, and draws some of the most talented PMs on the planet. The space is rife with unique challenges along with opportunities for those who understand the marketplace.

“Impactful products in the healthcare space have to be very, very patient centric. At the end of the day, you want to think about what is this unique unmet clinical need that my product or service alone can answer? Is it an easy-to-use solution? As in, ‘Yes, it’s going to meet a need, but is it going to be something that a user can adapt without having to go get a five-year degree?’ And then finally, is it a profitable economic model that this product is going to keep in mind as it’s going to be deployed in the market.”

Keep in mind that everything you do, every decision we make, everything you think about, every feature, every economic benefit has to keep the patient in mind, because at the end of the day, in order for any product to be successful in the healthcare space, you should really do no harm. 

You should also be thinking about how it’s going to make the patient’s life better because ultimately everyone in the healthcare space is super motivated by ensuring that we keep a patient at the front and center of all of our decision making and make their lives the best they can possibly be.”

On what makes the healthcare space so challenging

All markets have their own challenges, but healthcare is unique in that decisions and payment are often removed from the actual user or recipient of the product.

“You have a whole ecosystem of customers; you have your physicians, you have your patients, you have hospitals, you have health care providers, you have clinics, and you have your academic medical centers.

Some of these are decision makers, some influencers, some end users, and some can actually hinder or actually accelerate adoption. So keep in mind that your customer isn’t one individual entity. And you really have to think about the whole ecosystem of customers. 

And then your economic drivers. You have to think about who’s going to pay for this. Is it a Medicare reimbursable product? If so, how are private payers going to think about it because the bar is a little bit different as you go through different payment entities. And also, is it something that people are just going to buy on their own, like the Apple Watch is something you go buy on your own. And some consider that a medical device. 

On the challenges of system constraints with healthcare products

For PMs to succeed they must know and serve the end user, and also others along the way. Some are tech savvy and some are not, or they work in an environment where technology is outdated.

“For many of us in the Silicon Valley that are so used to super-fancy tech stacks, and AI, ML, all of these new age technologies being ubiquitous and how we do our day jobs, it’s really important to take a step back and think well, what are the system constraints in a healthcare setting? 

You’ll be really surprised sometimes people still use fax extensively. So for a lot of us, I don’t think we’ve even seen a fax machine for decades unless you go sit in a physician’s office, and then you see that’s how they actually think about doing business. 

So you could have a beautiful patient report for your very innovative test that’s colorful and lovely. At the end of the day, it gets faxed to your doctor’s office, and it’s pretty much lost all its luster. And that’s even before it’s reached the very first person who could actually be using it.

About the speaker
Vidya Ventkatesh Genomic Health, Director, Product Lifecycle Management Member
About the host
Neha Taleja Director of Product

Neha is the Senior Director of Product at Macmillan Learning leading a set of start-up products under the institutional group aimed to address challenges in higher education such as affordability of educational materials, retention and student success. She has been bu.ilding, growing and scaling products in the ed-tech space for the past decade with her experience ranging from course-ware solutions, student facing applications, to analytics and insights tools for decision makers. She loves to travel and lives in South San Francisco to stay close to the airport

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