Building digital products rooted in healthcare and wellness requires PMs to have different skill sets. When the products you are building can impact a person’s overall wellness, the reasons for building great products go far beyond customer satisfaction. So, what needs to be done differently when building digital health products? TimelyMD SVP of Product Zac Fleming shares insights on what it takes to build digital health products.
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On why healthcare demands a different kind of product
“For me, it really starts with the core. So first and foremost, I don’t believe that you can be a product company in healthcare. To be successful, you really need to be a healthcare company with a product.
“In healthcare, there’s something called the Hippocratic Oath, which in its simplest form says you should do no harm. This is something that physicians and other clinicians go through, and they say as part of their graduation and come into the market.
“So the way I see it is if product leaders really start with that same oath, it’s going to lead you to a very different type of product. So starting at the very beginning, it’s very important just to ground yourself in what is the core, and what type of product leader you want to be.”
On why healthcare products have never been needed more
“We’re at this unique moment in time where healthcare products have never been needed more. We all know that we’re in the midst of a crisis today. If mental health was a fire, COVID was definitely gasoline.
“So the reality is, when you just look at America, we’re at about six times higher anxiety rates and depression rates reported post COVID. You see younger generations more and more going away from primary care relationships, which historically has really driven most of healthcare, to digital health tools. So there’s every day there’s a new product in the app store, a new solution, and consumers are rapidly adopting those solutions.
“And then ultimately, as far as what is the form factor? It is the phone. Will there be other things? Are there other things around digital health and and other products? Definitely. But we will say today, a lot of these digital solutions are really seeking to innovate through mobile phones specifically.”
- Care shift: 55% of Gen Z does not have a primary care physician.
- Mobility: Smartphones integrated into almost every aspect of life with over 3.5 billion users. 46% of young people would prefer a broken bone to a broken phone.
- Digital Health: 1 in 3 millennials have downloaded a health app in the last 30 days.
- COVID: Americans reported rates of depression and anxiety 6x higher post COVID.
On the innovation imperative in health tech
“When you are really looking to ideate, within digital health products, it is important to actually challenge yourself to innovate. I will be the first to acknowledge innovation is a really buzzy word. It’s usually quickly followed by an eye roll. But if you really just look at the definition, all innovation is is simply a new method, idea, etc. So for the new normal, wait for it, we actually do need new products.
“To solve some of those problems, the growing needs of the world today, you really need to be thinking about how you go about an idea. Product leaders in this space don’t really have the luxury to just focus on building. You can’t just be looking at how do I build the product? How do I optimize? How do I take incremental steps forward? You really have to think about it more from the right to the left, which is I need to be able to reimagine this. I need to be willing to transform. And I need to be willing to go out and prototype things that may have not been done before.
“No product has holistically solved healthcare today. There is an unprecedent amount of solutions out there like telehealth, but we still need to make them more. And so as you come into the space as a product leader, it’s important to not just build products. But also think about how you can build the best and build the right product. Because ultimately that is still on the horizon.”
About the speaker
Zac is a growth driver with a passion to create innovation within healthcare. With over a decade on the leading edge of digital health, he brings his experience across start-ups to Fortune 30 corporations to help companies transform to make healthcare the way we all wish it would be. He casts bold visions that are grounded in proven strategies to help product-led companies exceed their growth, EBITDA and experience goals.
About the host
Ryan is the Senior Editor and Producer of Awards programs at Products That Count, a non-profit organization. Together with Founder SC Moatti he edits the weekly Products That Count newsletter, a must-read resource for staying up-to-date with all things PM. He is also the lead researcher and writer for industry-leading white papers such as the highly acclaimed CPO Insights Report. Oh, and if you like rock music, check out his band at nolovesongs.world