Devices & Diagnostics

In developing at-home diagnostics, focus less on features more on user experience

Panelists at a session on diagnostics at MedtechVision 2022, a hybrid conference organized by MedtechWomen stressed that consumer and physician experience with a product is what is key in medtech innovation compared with simply adding bells and whistles.

Fueled by the pandemic that boosted at-home consumer testing for Covid-19 as well as by increased investment over the last few years, the diagnostics industry is rapidly developing at-home testing capability.

However, it would be wise to focus less on features and more on the user experience.

“I have been in many different companies, financial services, healthcare gaming, et cetera, and people tend to focus on the product. How good is the product? Is it the most advanced? Does it have the most features? Does it have all of these kinds of things? I would rather have less features, 50% less features and a fantastic experience,” said Susan Moon, senior vice president, Customer & Digital Experience Team, Exact Sciences. [Exact Sciences makes and sells the at-home Cologuard colorectal-cancer screening tool. ] 

Moon was speaking Friday at the MedtechVision 2022, a hybrid conference organized by MedtechWomen. Her co-panelists were Archana Dubey chief clinical officer, AliveCor and Maital Rasmussen, chief commercial officer, Octave Bioscience and the panel was moderated by Lilly Li, principal, Northpond Ventures.

The focus on the consumer experience is especially key in the world of at-home diagnostics. First, because taking note of the consumer experience is part and parcel of developing a patient-centric healthcare world that everyone is striving for. And secondly, because, many consumers especially in the U.S. have a certain “opening the box” experience for tech devices driven by the likes of Apple.

“Think about when you open, uh, iPhone box or when you first got your Apple watch, right?” Moon prompted the audience. It’s like, pleasure.  You open it up. There are no instructions. It automatically starts. It’s very logical. That’s what has to happen to this space in, in care and in diagnostic tests and wearables, all of those kinds of things, because if they can’t figure it out, they’re not gonna do it or they’re gonna do it incorrectly. And that creates even more dissatisfaction.”

A good consumer/patient experience also helps to acquire an intangible commodity that has been sparse among certain sections of American society especially as it relates to Covid vaccines: trust.

“I think it’s applies to all of us who are working in MedTech — member experience is where you win trust,” said Dubey with AliveCor that has developed a mobile, personal EKG device that connects to a person’s smartphone to help monitor heart health. “So your EKG changes when you are running, when you are laying down, when you’re even in your sleep suits sometimes. And when the symptom happens, you have to make a doctor’s appointment. It’s two months away to get an EKG [appointment] …and  you will miss the diagnoses. So [our founder] took that big old [EKG] cart and put it in this credit card like device in the hands of people where they live, when, where heart disease or heart care is happening.”

Taking something that was only available in a clinical setting and democratizing that technology to be accessible in the home built trust between people who bought the device for use at home and AliveCor, Dubey said.

Another panelist implied that the focus on experience – be it the consumer/patient’s experience or the physician’s experience – needs to be in the DNA of the entire organization.

“It’s a whole company actually, it’s from the design of the product and it’s from the person who picks up the phone and it’s from the sales people. So you wanna create experiences, not only for the patients, but also for the physicians that actually supposed to, endorse it and bring it to the patient themselves,” said Maital Rasmussen, chief commercial officer, Octave Bioscience. “So it’s really — experiences is a currency right now.”