Are you meeting the target group’s requirements?
The element vital for product success is a well-devised go-to-market strategy. There are always two key questions when developing a new solution for doctors or patients, namely: does the product address the needs of the target group? and are those needs addressed in other ways in the market? (unique value proposition).
The key aspect is to take a look at the idea from the perspective of the patient, doctor, and payor. Ideally, we would conduct proper marketing research, but if we don’t have the funds for that we should look for people with a mission who would be willing to share their opinions and to listen to our future customers, at least on social media.
We know from experience that this stage is critical. This is how mySugr was created, which is now used by three million people suffering from diabetes worldwide.
A group of enthusiasts, who were themselves suffering, realized that they were lacking the tool motivating them to measure their sugar levels regularly. The whole story and business strategy centered around meeting this need.
Determining the unique need that our solution satisfies will become the basis for future conversations with potential investors and business partners.
Learn the rules of the game
While getting ready to build a strategy for a new digital solution, especially if we’re entering a completely new field, we analyze the market. This can be done in-house or with the help of external advisors, or within a trade association representing the MedTech industry. This is where we need to invest time and funds. Otherwise, the entire R&D effort may prove useless or be significantly delayed.
When analyzing the regulatory and business environment, let’s keep in mind that we should analyze legal regulations, both those currently existing and those that are currently being developed (the GDPR, Regulation (EU) 2017/745 of the European Parliament and Council of April 5, 2017, on Medical Devices). We also need to look at the options for the reimbursement of digital medical solutions, the technical requirements for cooperation with payors’ systems (e.g. HL7), any regulations regarding where to store medical records (in some countries medical records cannot be stored on foreign servers), and the current medical requirements which have to be met by all digital solutions within the given field.
Regulatory provisions in the Medtech industry are forever changing, and this is something which we have observed during the pandemic. Solutions that have been in the market for a long time (such as telemedicine) have entered a new dimension in terms of reimbursement, working with doctors, and serving patients.
There are some positive signals coming from authorities in Poland regarding the creation of the Policy for Development of Artificial Intelligence, which has been approved by the Council of Ministers Board for Digitization, and the Data Release program for 2021-2027.
A properly conducted market analysis will also help us crystalize the future business model for the sales of our product. There may be some pilot programs currently being implemented in our area or local government.
Proper market research will also help us identify potential business partners with whom we can commercialize our solution (e.g. telecommunications operators, insurance companies, or other Medtech companies which could complement our products).
In the above-mentioned cases, a positive effect of your product on the target group must be evident (such as the decreased need for hospitalization, fewer medical complications among patients).
What business model to adopt
Designing a business model and pricing strategy is a challenge to anyone launching a product for the first time. We know from experience that when licensing a digital solution for a specific period of time the price should correlate with the number of users of the application. Alternatively, as in the case of mySugr, a freemium model can be offered – where the basic functions are available for free and the user can gain access to the remaining features by paying a subscription fee (monthly or annual). In this way customers can get a taste of our digital solution and find out if it’s actually worth paying for the full version.
An interesting way of valuing digital services has emerged among companies that provide artificial intelligence systems that read radiological pictures. The companies take the hourly rate for the work of a radiologist and estimate how much time the clinic would save by adopting their AI-based solution. The most important thing is to select the model best suited to the product in question and which allows us to respond to the requirements of the target group.
In conclusion, we would like to quote the words of Frank Westermann, one of the founders of mySugr: “The source of mySugr’s success in the diabetes community and the subsequent acquisition by Roche was a combination of different elements: the right product (made by patients for patients), the right time (we started when the first iPhone was launched), a strong team of founders with a common vision, and shareholders
Adam Hołubek – Digital health passionate, experienced in go-to-market strategies; Roche Poland; www.linkedin.com/in/adam-holubek
Jakub Chwiećko – Medical expert on digital health and Artificial Intelligence; Independent strategic consultant https://www.linkedin.com/in/jakubchwiecko/