Four Healthcare Product Management Trends for 2018
- Those developing and managing products for healthcare organizations face some specific and unique challenges
- For 2018, this includes more of a focus on solutions and process compliance, understanding the various types of users, and paying more attention to value-based pricing
- Product management leaders should ensure their teams have the knowledge, competencies and processes in place to deliver repeatable product success
We work with B2B product management teams across many industries at SiriusDecisions, but lately we’ve been with more product management teams in companies that are healthcare-focused (e.g. healthcare information technology, medical devices, health analytics) as well as product management teams that have “horizontal” products (e.g. content management) where the organization is targeting healthcare as a key growth area.
While the priorities of product management leaders are fairly consistent, there are a four trends that are taking on increased importance for healthcare-focused product management:
- Increasing focus on solutions. Many organizations are looking to move beyond simply offering standalone, discrete products to offer different types of solutions, including bundles and integrated solutions. This trend is especially relevant for product management in the healthcare industry for a number of reasons. Within health IT specifically, companies have evolved from focusing on one element of the provider technology infrastructure – only electronic medical records systems or only revenue cycle management – and are realizing that they need to meet a wider range of needs across the hospital or health system in the face of increasing competition. Acquisitions and consolidations have also forced product teams to deal with the challenges of integrating acquired products into an increasingly complex portfolio. More broadly, changing needs for availability and continuity of healthcare information – driven by everything from the focus on population health and value-based care to the blurring line between payers and providers – have changed expectations for how products will provide logical interoperability. This requires looking beyond the products offered within a business unit, taking an audience-centric look at customer needs, and designing the right solutions at an enterprise level. Product management leaders need to help their teams improve their approaches for product roadmapping to ensure solution roadmaps are aligned and potentially establish a solutions management function to provide oversight and increase the commercial success of integrated solutions.
- Compliance with a defined product lifecycle process. Companies that have targeted many different industries historically may be in for a rude awakening when targeting healthcare buyers due to unique regulations and requirements for companies handling protected health information (e.g. HIPAA, HITRUST Common Security Framework) that products used in healthcare environments need to meet. Ensuring new products meet these standards – and established products continue to meet them – requires that the organization follow a defined process to ensure all necessary security, privacy and compliance standards are met and documented. Many of our healthcare clients have leveraged our SiriusDecisions Product Marketing and Management (PMM) Model, a best-in-class innovation, go-to-market and product lifecycle process, to establish and enforce that consistency. While it provides guidance and structure to help product teams create the right products to meet customer needs, SiriusDecisions also work with our clients to help tailor the model and its associated deliverable templates as needed to facilitate inclusion of the relevant regulatory and compliance requirements.
- Better understanding of users, and the various types of users. Years ago, it may have been possible to succeed with a product that decisionmakers in a healthcare organization liked, even if the end users found it difficult to use. That is no longer the case. Most decisionmaking processes in healthcare providers and payers include involvement and feedback at some level from people who use the products – e.g. research assistants using software to track the progress of a clinical trial, phlebotomists using the equipment purchased by a blood bank. Product managers need to develop a deep understanding of user needs, and recognize and understand the different needs of various types of users in the healthcare value chain. For example, the users of materials to educate patients on certain medical conditions are not just the doctors and nurses who access and distribute those materials, but the patients and family members who are reading and following the instructions contained within. Product managers need to be regularly conducting research – including interviews with these different user personas – to help inform product strategy and identify needs and requirements.
- Increased focus on value-based pricing. New approaches to pricing products, services and solutions are priorities for product managers in many industries, but healthcare in the US has seen significant changes in healthcare economics (e.g. bundled payments, value-based care). These changes have highlighted the need to look at the changing pricing of products for healthcare – many of which used cost-plus pricing or competitive pricing – to value-based pricing to better align with how healthcare providers are reimbursed. Additionally, the aforementioned trend toward solutions has driven a renewed focus on how these new packaging approaches impact pricing. Product management leaders need to ensure their teams are following a best-practice approach for pricing and packaging (such as our SiriusDecisions Pricing and Packaging Blueprint) to operationalize a value-based pricing and packaging approach. At our upcoming SiriusDecisions Summit 2018, my colleague Lisa Singer will be presenting a session titled “Making the Move to Value-Based Pricing,” which will cover a process to simplify the approach to develop and go to market with value-based pricing without getting overwhelmed by the effort.
If you are leading a product management team in a company specifically focused on healthcare organizations or working on targeting your products for healthcare buyers, contact us to learn more about how we can help you and your team.