Building health-tech products when the rules are still being written, by Joe Rinaldi Johnson "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs October 10 2020 True health, healthtech, London, product leadership, Product Strategy, ProductTank, ProductTank London, Regulation, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 402 Joe Rinaldi Johnson at ProductTank London Product Management 1.608

Building health-tech products when the rules are still being written, by Joe Rinaldi Johnson

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In this ProductTank London talk, Joe Rinaldi Johnson shares what he’s learned in 10 years of navigating the challenging and highly regulated field of healthcare. He is the Chief Product Officer at Zava, a digital healthcare company offering remote diagnosis and prescriptions.

If you, like Joe, feel there is a lack of resources about product management in healthcare, watch his talk or keep on reading.

“Move slowly and don’t kill people”

The old Facebook motto of “Move fast and break things” absolutely does not apply to healthcare, Joe says, and innovating in this field is hard. Many users of healthcare products are vulnerable, and there are strict inspections and regulations in place. Understanding both this regulated market as well as a target group that really just wants to “get back to normal” is key to finding success in healthcare.

Get to know your customers and make long-term bets based on your insights

Joe stresses the importance of deeply understanding your customers’ context before you can create long-term value for them. With customer research, Zava found that their main job was to reduce friction on their customers’ way of “getting back to normal” when they felt sick. What would create the most value, they found, was to keep pushing the boundaries of “fast and easy” within the confines of regulations.

Regulations: Barriers and opportunities

Working in this field is anything but straightforward, Joe says. Every target market comes with varying regulations, mostly designed in pre-digital times with face-to-face consultations in mind.

Aside from a clear product strategy, he stresses that collaboration is key: Product people need to collaborate closely with lawyers and doctors to sense and understand regulatory challenges and mitigate them fast. Based on scanning the (legal) environment, be prepared on increase or decrease your bets and shift focus and resources if needed.

Keeping an eye out for the changing tides of regulation has not only helped Joe avoid run-ins with regulators but actually helped spot opportunity: When they detected rumblings about upcoming changes to German law, Zava acted fast, and turned the legalization of remote treatment via video into an opportunity to launch their first native app.

Joe’s recommendations summed up:

  • Make long-term bets on value creation based on customer insight
  • Collaborate closely to sense and respond to challenges early
  • Scan regularly for opportunities in changing regulations
  • Increase or decrease the strength of your bets based on your environment