Smarter technology means smarter healthcare, but it also poses lessons for business leaders. Wearables like FitBit remind us of the value of gamification. Meditation tools such as Headspace teach us to slow down after a long day.

But look a little deeper, and you'll find less obvious lessons. Hidden behind four up-and-coming healthcare technologies are these must-know bits of business wisdom:

1. Use customer data streams, not snapshots.

Before wearable technology, healthcare providers had little or no way of tracking their patients' health once they left the doctor's office. Healthcare startups like Myia Health are now using wearables to monitor patients with chronic conditions like heart failure.

Kits from Myia might include a patch to track heart rhythms or a ring to monitor sleep patterns, depending on the individual patient's needs. Doctors can monitor the collected data on the Myia platform and make recommendations after patients go home.

In much the same way, marketing attribution software now lets leaders understand customer behavior beyond single website actions. Tools like tracking pixels and beacons connect what customers do on desktop, mobile, and in the real world to provide ongoing insight into their shopping behavior. No matter the tech, look at the data to gain invaluable insights into your customers.

2. Don't settle for 'good enough' solutions.

Decades ago, prosthetics were rigid, uncomfortable appendages that provided marginal mobility improvements to the wearer. Today's prosthetics mimic bodily functions remarkably well, and they're only getting smarter.

Researchers at the National University of Singapore just announced that they have created a new kind of synthetic skin. This prosthetic, called asynchronous coded electronic skin (ACES), allows users to feel the same sensations that real human skin does.

Most skin-graft patients probably do not expect a perfect replacement, but ACES actually outperforms natural skin in certain sensory tests. With your own product, don't settle simply for what customers "expect"; blow your competitors out of the water. Design, develop, and redevelop your product until you hear "wow" from testers.

3. Win with your user experience.
Years from now, the business community may call 2020 "the year of user experience." Recall that Walker's Customers 2020 report, released in 2013, predicted next year would be when UX overtakes price and product as the primary brand differentiator. Focus next year's investments not on manufacturing processes that build a better or cheaper product, but on improving customer touchpoints.

Health startup FIGUR8 takes improving touchpoints literally. Although many fitness trackers can sense things like acceleration, movement, sleep, and exercise, not many can see into tissues. FIGUR8 recently created a new flexible tracking sensor that can sense the deformation of soft tissue.

Some prosthetics use electromyography (EMG), but FIGUR8's devices use mechanomyography (MMG). This difference allows for faster attachment and eliminates the need for patients to shave their skin to attach the devices.

"Up until now, it was next to impossible to get skeletal movement outside of a laboratory setting, and clinicians were forced to exclusively use hands on assessments which leads to variation in care," notes FIGUR8 CEO Nan-Wei Gong. Some of the best UX boosts come from tweaks that also make employees' lives easier.

4. Help customers help themselves.
Self-service saves money, and four in ten consumers now prefer it over actual human contact. Perhaps as part of your UX push, develop service channels like chatbots that empower customers to solve their own challenges.

New ultrasound tools are now putting the scanning technology in customers' hands. Ultrasound scans let doctors examine the health of internal organs like the liver, heart, and uterus. They can reveal whether a lump is a tumor or simply a fluid-filled cyst.

But until Butterfly figured out how to conduct ultrasounds via a handheld, app-connected device, getting an ultrasound meant a trip to a hospital or a specialist's office. Approved by the FDA for 13 clinical applications, including obstetric and cardiac imaging, Butterfly retails for $2,000 -- the price, in some cases, of a single scan -- and can be used at home.

Via the HIPAA-approved app, users can send scans to off-site doctors. If experts aren't satisfied with the shots they receive, they can guide users to take fresh ones. That sort of hybrid model may be appropriate if your product or service is more complex.

With billions of lives and dollars at stake, the healthcare industry has been hard at work developing tools that seem like science fiction. Even if you can't use them personally, use their lessons to build a healthier business.

Published on: Nov 26, 2019
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