Creating Value for Healthcare Startups, using UX Research & Domain Expertise

State of Global Health Systems exposed by Pandemics

Systems & policies are often created by bureaucrats who are far removed from the industry they wish to regulate; and from the people that they wish to impact

Policymakers are incentivised to create societies that are best able to generate the right value with the available funds

Health systems exist to integrate various structures – products, people and services

The healthcare sector is designed and maintained to deliver value-added care services in primary secondary and tertiary tiers

Such massive service systems need a great deal of money to continue working – regardless of funds, the healthcare sector is often the most primitive in many countries (even in Europe)

Unlike other industries such as in transportation manufacturing legal systems and so on – the health system is it at least 20 years behind everyone else

In terms of skills capacity building, equitable distribution of healthcare products, using data metrics to provide cost-effective solutions and of course systemic deficiencies and transparency – not just in developing countries, even in Europe such factors are prevalent.

“The health system is traditionally anti-disruption, because of the industrial culture amongst healthcare professionals and tight regulations that delay the incorporation of much-needed innovation”

The COVID-19 pandemic has brutally exposed the bureaucratic deficiencies and The breakdown in knowledge sharing capacity between nations, between ministries, even between medical institutions in the same city.

In the new post covered future, will health systems recover & continue the same processes as in December 2020?

… or will there be an opportunity to catch up to 21st-century technological and digital transformation?

Healthcare UX for Startups in 2021 | UX Research Tips for Entrepreneurs

Innovations arising out of a crisis

Modern history shows that the most innovative companies were born during times of great economic and even social upheavals. War-time is often the ideal ecosystem for developing unique medical and pharmaceutical innovations

When markets are suddenly turned upside down and when traditional assets no longer have any meaning or value…

Dormant entrepreneurs step up to the challenge to bring a sense of certainty out of this chaos. Healthcare innovation is a clear market need in times of global pandemics

Throughout medical history, you will see descriptions of innovative methods in:

  • Sanitation
  • Hygiene
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Surgical interventions

This pandemic which coincidentally occurred during the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution will give birth to

  • mHealth
  • AI-enabled supports
  • Machine learning diagnostics
  • IoT/VR based consultations

Mobile Health will not be regulated by geography, time, politics and other man-made structures

Healthcare UX for Startups in 2021 | UX Research Tips for Entrepreneurs

The impact of Digital health solutions will be directly related to the imagination of healthcare entrepreneurs & experts who can design the right business model

How does a Healthech startup work?

A start-up is defined by the ability to rapidly scale, grow and deliver unique value.

Start-ups are designed to solve a unique problem quickly safely efficiently cheaply and basically better than what people used to do extra

Health start-ups create solutions for unique healthcare-related problems for a unique population, such as;

  • A novel vaccine for a novel disease
  • A cheaper better way to deliver medicines
  • An easier safer way to carry out the procedure
  • Convenient communication between providers and patience
  • Robust method and analysing vast quantities of information

Different health products have different values for different patients, but they must follow the same characteristics.

They should create a minimum viable product that is really needed to solve a problem, by a population that can afford it, and the business operations should be sustainable for as long as possible – before being acquired by a major player in the health system

… At least that’s the plan

Why do so many health startups fail?

Healthcare UX for Startups in 2021 | UX Research Tips for Entrepreneurs

There are many blogs and articles that highlight the following factors responsible for startup failure:

  • Lack of funding
  • Wrong team
  • Inadequate marketing campaigns
  • The market wasn’t ready or it is saturated
  • Improper branding

Health startups collapse due to these cardinal issues:

  • Creating a solution that nobody wants
  • The incorrect business model or payer system
  • Powerful regulations
  • Force majeure

There is another important reason why HealthTech startups can actually fail from Day 1…

A company may indeed produce a revolutionary solution, have a very competitive strategy and value base price structure, with impactful marketing campaigns & other impactful decisions by the founding team….

But still, they may never make it beyond the beta stage (MVP) because they are missing the secret sauce

How can you disrupt an industrial system if nobody in the founding team has any experience in that domain?

The power of health sector domain expertise is chronicled by Aristotle when he coined the terms:


Credibility as an authority figure/thought leader/domain expert


Leveraging emotional investment to a brand
Appealing to the psychosocial components of trust-building


Clearly communicating the practical benefits to the customer (not just the features) i.e power of testimonials

What is Healthcare UX?

User experience (UX) can be thought of as a form of practical empathy

The functional, emotional and behavioural interaction a user has with a product. UX is the cornerstone of creating a true appreciation of its value as a long-term profitable outcome of innovation

Unique design thinking allows for the precise engineering of products and services that caters to the needs of a defined population, not just for one time use, but continued use. To set the tone for brand loyalty and customer retention

Companies that invest in UX research will create the necessary processes for high-value clients to keep coming back to them; regardless of new market entry, changes in economic drives and other externalities that would otherwise dissuade the price-sensitive customer (the non-customer).

UX research is not just about how an app is designed, or the packaging of a product or anything related to user interface (this is a common misconception).

Healthcare UX for Startups in 2021 | UX Research Tips for Entrepreneurs

UX requires true mental devotion into the pain points of your ideal customer, the psychosocial decisions that are made to actually initiate a purchase, complete the process, upgrade to higher-priced packages* and of course to promote it to their own social circles –  otherwise known as upselling, cross-selling, upgrading and promoting.

*This is how value-added solutions can truly 10X the value & income of businesses.

Do you want to keep reading?

A video version of this blog is available for a more immersive learning experience
Recorded segment from International Digital HealthTech Expo 2020 – hosted by DiTech Media in September 3 2020 in Bulgaria, Sofia

So what is Healthcare UX?

The way healthcare products or service are designed to cater to the health needs of the population goes beyond how hospitals are designed, the look of a new lab coat or even the design of the lobby – it is all about first impressions of a patient as soon as they enter the reception area and beyond as they travel through different departments and interact with personnel.

This patient UX is a key learning point for medical anthropology, sociology and patient psychology

In the public sector, patient satisfaction is directly linked to the actual impact on a wider community according to infrastructure usage and program participation

The private sector medical institutions often ignore Healthcare UX such that excess capital is spent on the overall aesthetics of a hospital building, marketing promotions and of course the colourful app designs, ignoring the patient journey from uncertainty to service satisfaction

This is why even in Digital health technologies, there may be a very high onboarding effect (eg. app downloads) due to the marketing campaigns, promotions and other ‘cool’ factors…
… but unfortunately, HealthTech solutions have the highest churn rates (app deletion/user dormancy/overall customer dropoff) compared to any other their digital service solution*.

*Fintech/mobile games/communication/e-commerce platforms have one of the highest retention rates than any other platforms

Investment in Healthcare UX Research is a necessary prerequisite when advancing beyond the minimum viable product/beta test of any digital health solution

For truly scalable and sustainable growth, the healthcare entrepreneur must think beyond value metrics such as user numbers, rather focussing on the true impactful KPI such as user turnover, CAC, LTV retention, digital marketing analytics and focus group feedback on intuitive design

At the end – you must solve the problem effectively
(not just by a pretty face or interface)

Click here to download the ebook version of this blog

Healthcare professionals as key decision-makers in innovation

Having an experienced Doctor in your team, as a core decision-maker may give you the right combination of domain expertise (authority) & healthcare UX methodology as the secret sauce to future success in digital health

So where can you find doctors who will help you design your health tech start-up?
Due to global lockdown, there is a monumental increase in  online activities and social media interaction, you may be able to connect with open-minded and ambitious medical professionals in the following places:

  • Exclusive Facebook and LinkedIn pages frequented by healthcare entrepreneurs
  • Search online for webinars dealing with medical innovation and healthcare careers
  • Join membership programs in professional circles related to medicine and health eg. SOPE
  • Content marketing and hosting health-related webinars may attract entrepreneurial doctors to you

Clubhouse is becoming a fast growing platform to network with physiican entrepreneurs and other industry experts

Healthcare UX for Startups in 2021 | UX Research Tips for Entrepreneurs

What kind of doctor should you look for to provide you with this domain expertise?

Domain expertise goes beyond how many degrees a doctor may have. You should consider an assessment of a doctor’s soft skills and bedside mannerisms.

The key characteristics that may be of value to your enterprise:

  • At least 5 years of postgraduate medical experience (Malcolm Gladwell ‘Outliers’, a true expert should have at least 10,000 hours of intimate and intuitive knowledge of their industry)
  • A problem-solving mentality/growth mindset towards health sector problems
  • A deep yearning to create value for one’s community and a desire for financial freedom
  • An empathic demeanour towards the patient population and their own colleagues
  • Willing to put their reputation on the line for the greater good


Importance of healthcare domain expertise for UX design

Domain expertise is acquired through years of intensive and intuitive practical experience in a particular niche.

Medical personnel are inherently aware of the obstacles to proper healthcare delivery – from the point of care and the emergency room all the way beyond discharge.

Healthcare UX for Startups in 2021 | UX Research Tips for Entrepreneurs

Doctors are trained to be responsible for the health of the patient under their care, a medical co-founder is equally interested to take this responsibility as well – perhaps on an even greater scale.

Goes without saying that patients would be more willing to place their trust in a product if there was an assurance that a healthcare professional not only designed the system but assumes responsibility for the patient-user journey at every step.

Digital health is supposed to streamline critical processes a patient would normally take in order for a particular health outcome, logically speaking a medical personnel would know which steps are an unnecessary hassle and which steps must remain and be improved upon in the business solution.

Establishing authority in the market goes beyond social media content, even investors are more trusting of institutions where that authority figure has a crucial decision-making capacity within the organisation.

Having the right authority in the market, means being able to position your startup as the gold standard in quality customer care

About ViOS

ViOS is a groundbreaking software development and digital product distribution company, incorporated in Delaware, USA since June 2020.

The ViOS team is made up of ambitious physician entrepreneurs and technology experts, with 20yrs combined experience in the medical field, healthtech and in software-as-a-service (saas) industries.

The ViOS mission is deeply ingrained in the guidelines of SDG 3.c of the United Nations General Assembly – with a strong focus on sustainable universal healthcare coverage and impact.

We believe in creating the right technologically-driven solution for the new normal in value-centered access to universal healthcare.

Do you want to know more?

Ismail Sayeed CEO Medical Director ViOS, Inc.


Dr. Ismail Sayeed

Dr. Sayeed is the Medical Director of ViOS, Inc. He is a deeply committed physician entrepreneur & medical blog writer. While building the global infrastructure of the VIOS Clinic, he is dedicated to educate people on the potential of specialist telemedicine for managing chronic diseases.

Read more about him in his author bio


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