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Innovation in a digital context is not about technology – it’s about people

By Peter Henshaw

Every business is now a digital business to some extent, based upon the degree to which it uses digital media to communicate with its customers and stakeholders.

As digital technologies continue to integrate with and transform our lives, it’s business-critical for healthcare communications to evolve in step. The need for innovative digital products, campaigns and experiences to serve patients won’t stop growing – yet the skills to do so are not native to all businesses.

Digital technology, if it’s to be engaged with, insists that the customer should be at the centre of everything we do. That we should be driven by data, perspectives, behaviours and experiences rather than instinct.

Innovation in a digital context is not about technology. It’s about people. This is at the heart of innovation for patients as well as for healthcare professionals. Fundamentally, this is what drives our business.

True patient- centricity means meeting – and exceeding – the digital expectations of potentially highly empowered patients at every point of contact. We can only do this by involving them at each step in the project-delivery process.

Creating a tailored patient experience

In order to create a tailored experience that patients want to engage with, we need to involve them in every facet of the project – including planning, development and evaluation.

Through UX research, it means observing and understanding their interaction behaviour, so we can develop digital products and campaigns that are simple, intuitive and that ultimately help to create positive brand experiences for our clients.

Most patients have formed highly sophisticated digital expectations, based upon the content they consume every day, delivered by platforms that are driven by a single-minded conviction that user experience is the key to digital effectiveness.

We have to build our digital patient experiences on that kind of framework. But to do this effectively requires new ways of thinking. It requires companies like ours to operate cross-functionally and with agility. So new organisational relationships have to replace traditional silos.

Cross-functional collaboration is crucial

Doing things differently can be challenging – especially when it balances risk with reward. But doing things the same way carries its own risk: the risk of getting stuck on the same path with the same methods while patients’ expectations evolve beyond us.

With the landscapes of digital technologies and user experience constantly shifting, we must be ready to shift in step, or risk being outpaced by those who are more agile and responsive.

The goal for our company was to establish a mindset based upon value, one that is human- centred and driven by outcomes rather than deliverables. Our project delivery processes and methodologies, and even our values, help to facilitate this.

It permeates every part of our business. And rather than looking inwards, we looked outwards – towards technology leaders – to help us optimise the way we work and to be inspired by how they have developed new ways of understanding customers at scale.

Putting it into practice

This process is well illustrated through our development of, a website to support people with psoriatic disease. Initially we explored the experiences of people with psoriasis.

We worked with them to develop and refine the platform based on their digital needs. The process sought to test, refine and identify any missing information that could optimise the potential of the website, ensuring it met the specific needs of the psoriasis community.

After many interviews, workshops, community perspectives and market analyses, we understood what they needed from digital content and the way they wanted to receive it.

As a diverse condition which flares up intermittently, can be resistant to treatment and for some may never fully fade, clear skin is often not a priority. Those with psoriasis need to be supported to understand and live with their condition, however it manifests, allowing them to feel comfortable in their own skin and empowered to participate in their treatment.

We initiated a full content redevelopment to improve mobile user experience, level of detail and tone. We have also been continuously developing new content based on patients’ needs: an interactive treatment pathway, an interactive appointment-preparation video, ever-growing support for psoriatic arthritis, advice on treatments and lifestyle during the COVID-19 pandemic, and more.

The direct inclusion of people with psoriasis, healthcare professionals, digital experts and other collaborators has been vital at every step of iteration – driving what we see as an innovative digital product which not only meets the needs of our clients, but the needs of people with psoriasis, who deserve actionable support tailored to their circumstances.

Peter Henshaw is the Managing Director of Digital for Mednet Group,

In association with

17th November 2020

From: Marketing


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