21st-century trends in analytics and BI point to the growing importance of big data across industries. And with access to rapidly expanding quantities of data on patient care and physician performance stored by medical software, the healthcare industry has much to gain from the adoption of embedded analytics solutions in that software. Medical software providers, it follows, are well poised to contribute to a revolution in healthcare analytics that empowers healthcare providers, tangibly impacts the quality of patient care, and provides opportunities to monetize vast amounts of unwieldy data transformed into actionable insights by a powerful BI solution.
The Healthcare Industry’s Duty: Data-Driven Insights For All
As a Product Developer and BI expert at GeriMedica, a multidisciplinary electronic medical record (EMR) servicing the elderly care market, I would argue that meaningful (and ultimately successful) embedded analytics solutions are not executed first and foremost for financial gain. They are executed first and foremost in the spirit of providing insights that will empower your customers—healthcare providers—to impact the lives of their people—their patients.
For medical software providers, in particular, I believe it is our responsibility to embark on embedded analytics projects not in pursuit of a higher-value product but in pursuit of a new philosophy on how end-users should look at data, glean insights, and use those insights to serve their patients in the best way possible. Lead with your heart, and the money will follow.
The following nine-step framework details the steps a mindful medical Saas provider must follow to ensure their embedded solution is first impactful—and then, ultimately, profitable.
The Problem Space
1. Define a clear customer segment
A solution for everyone is a solution for no one. Before creating a BI solution, Gerimedica had to decide who our solution was meant to empower. We knew that office managers, administrators, and financial departments weren’t lacking in access to BI insights. Those suffering from a true BI blindspot were the doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists—the generators of the data. They spent their days generating data in our system, but they weren’t able to glean insights from all that data they generated on a day-to-day basis.
We wanted to empower the caregivers to make decisions based on insights. And so our clear customer segment was defined.
2. Identify the real problems at hand
Prior to embedding a BI solution, Gerimedica’s software solution gave caregivers the ability to create care paths based on common use cases and select a care path for each patient based on their diagnosis. These care paths defined the treatment types and number of treatment hours associated with each diagnosis and allowed caregivers to track each patient’s progress in the system.
The problem? Without analytics, caregivers weren’t able to identify trends in the success of these care paths or view their patients and common care paths on an aggregated level. What was the success rate of each care path? Was there a care path with a low rate of success that needed to be reevaluated? If end-users could access this data, they could tangibly impact a patient’s level of care and personalize it according to clearly visible trends.
And so we defined the real problem we sought to solve with our BI solution.
3. Validate your assumptions — talk talk talk!
Throughout the five-month implementation process, I learned more by speaking to an end-user for two-minutes than I ever could have learned by conducting research behind my computer screen.
Once our customer segment and problem were defined, it was time to validate our assumptions on the ground. And our validation process drove home the fact that we were on the right track. We learned that most of the caregivers on our accounts gleaned insights by exporting reports out of our system and trying to filter them manually to learn something. Because it was so labor-intensive, nothing was updated as frequently as you would expect in the healthcare field—which meant no one had access to real-time data.
Users were inundated by access to 400 different dashboards, a result of the fact that they lacked the ability to drill down and filter dashboards to find the insights they needed. A new dashboard was created for every new query, and then promptly forgotten in a sea of hundreds of other dashboards. And creating each new dashboard? That required an external data consultant on-site.
4. Numbers are your friend
Were the pains real enough that our customers would be willing to pay for a better solution? Only after defining our customer segment, identifying the problem, and validating our assumptions was it time to think about the financials.
We needed to make sure that our solution was a better and more affordable solution than the current patchwork solutions. And that meant we needed to estimate the size of the problem to help contextualize it and price our solution accordingly.
By continuing our on-the-ground reconnaissance, we realized all that manual labor was costing our customers money—because every hour that an employee spends not doing his primary work is money lost. When we had our customers break it down, we realized that they were spending roughly 15-20K per year on patchwork BI solutions. With this research behind us, we knew that our solution was cheaper and could also solve the problem of misused labor.
We knew we were on the right track.
The Solution Space
With the knowledge that we had identified a problem and a solution with a positive business case, it was time to brainstorm what our actual embedded analytics solution would look like. And it was important to us not to fall into the “different colored apple” trap—a solution that mimicked the functionality of other BI solutions offered by our competitors. We wanted to offer something truly unique in its functionality, that solved problems in a way that none of our competitors were currently offering.
A thorough brainstorming session with Gerimedica team members and market experts was essential to ensuring that our solution was something different, while still incorporating all elements requested by our end-users.
6. The one-minute pitch
Just as important as our embedded analytics solution was how to convey the value of our solution to our end-users in a meaningful, compelling way.
The pitch: Our solution is for care treatment teams in the elderly care sphere that are dissatisfied with their lack of insights. Our solution improves productivity and treatment quality by bringing insights to all aspects of care. These insights are available with one click of a button—and you don’t have to undergo extensive training on how to use the dashboards to gain insights yourself. You are skilled in giving care—not analyzing data day in and day out. This solution brings the insights to you.
7. Create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
It’s critical to understand that the validation process isn’t a one-time event. We validated our assumptions in step three, but now it was time to validate our solution. We started by creating and embedding a few test dashboards that provided high-priority insights within our software environment as a demo and took it to our end-users.
Because it’s one thing to pitch a solution. It’s another thing entirely to demonstrate it’s value in real time. And the response was amazing—customers wanted to buy it on the spot! Before doubling down on the solution, we wanted to show our customers that the solution we created was the right solution. By prioritizing this step in the framework, our customers knew that a revolutionary BI solution embedded in a software environment they knew and loved was incoming.
8. Co-creation of dashboards through beta-testing
Co-creation of dashboards allowed us to make sure we were answering the questions that our end-users needed. So we enlisted six organizations that would pilot the new solution for free—all we wanted in return was a commitment: show up and give good feedback.
During this step, we held workshops to discern the requirements we needed to include from key stakeholders. At each workshop, we’d end up with 60 post-its (business requirements) and eventually filtered that down to 20 post-its. These 20 post-its were translated into widgets within our dashboards.
The biggest takeaway from this step? We realized that 90% of the post-its we saw in these workshops were the same for every organization. This helped in marketing and selling our embedded analytics solution to new customers because our software could come inbuilt with dashboards that already answered 90% of their business questions.
9. Show me the money
“If you can show me the business case—it’s already too late.”Bill Gates
When our embedded analytics solution was ready to roll out, we didn’t want to waste time deciding on a licensing structure—it was our pilot users who helped us determine the value and the data monetization strategies and licensing structures that would work in the market for our future customers.
It was important to Gerimedica that we didn’t deliver a stand-alone product or service, but a philosophical mindset shift around data that created a user community around data visualization and insights—built straight into our software offering. And this decision sparked one of my favorite parts of our final BI solution—today, our customers get designer accounts so they can create their own dashboards or tweak the base dashboards that come with the product.
We created a rich environment filled with documentation and training materials that empower end-users to get their own business insights as well as a Dashboard Marketplace so that every organization doesn’t have to start from scratch.
And this is how our original goal of improving healthcare and empowering caregivers came full circle: our users can (and actively do!) share dashboards between organizations, empowering each other to provide the best possible care regardless of their organization—based on a shared philosophy of insights for all.
About the Author
Hamza Jap-Tjong is CEO & Co-Founder of GeriMedica Inzicht, a GeriMedica subsidiary. GeriMedica is a SaaS company focused on delivering the best software and service for healthcare professionals operating in the elderly care sector.