Biodesign Bootcamp Comes to an End

Sometime between Week 3 and this week, it’s been an incredible month. (Why? #HurricaneHarvey). Rewinding what seemed like ages ago, the bootcamp capped off with two final pitch presentations to faculty and advisors, including Dr. Billy Cohn.

In the beginning of the bootcamp, individual personal experiences between my teammate Kareem and I led us to focusing on the pains around managing healthcare bills. For me, I was dealing with a stack of bills from my wife’s pregnancy and labor and delivery, which spans from prenatal visits/tests to labor and delivery to post-natal follow up. In that time, we had 2 ER visits, 1 overnight admission on an unrelated incident, the hospital stay itself for the delivery, and newborn care. I was certain that we maxed out our out of pocket deductible, but how much I wasn’t sure given that the bills came in dribs and drabs from various senders, some of which were duplicates. Our need statement was:

A better way for patients to manage the complexity of health insurance paperwork to ensure peace of mind on spending.

We created a concept around managing the complexities of healthcare paperwork, which included a dashboard that aggregates one’s current and historical insurance policies. Ultimately, we put this idea on the parking lot (maybe like Garage E, 10 miles away) after presenting this to our advisors and potential investors. The viability of the concept was highly dependent on access to data, and since this was a bootcamp, we didn’t actually have real world data points on whether this was a viable pain point.

Okay, so we dropped that and focused on the other leading need based on a criteria our team came up with. That need was based on observations during our team’s Emergency Department rotations. The workflow of patient in-take revealed potential duplication of patent identities from triage to subsequent work up. The need statement was:

A way to reduce duplicate patient records for hospitals so that fewer claims are denied and fewer administrative hours are spent on record clean-up.

The concept that was built around this was basically a master data management (MDM) solution. (Coincidentally, I did not influence this aspect even though I had some familiarity because I was in that particular part of my previous employer’s business unit). I won’t go into the details of the pitch itself or the MDM technology.

During this time, I had some observations that I felt was interesting. And my observations are obviously biased towards digital solutions.

  1. It’s an iterative process. Although the bootcamp was an exercise, I felt we treated the process as if it were real. It helped us understand the overall process for future phases of needs finding.
  2. Certain kinds of data validates needs over even scored criteria in need filtering. While the biodesign process is systematic and a good start to uncovering needs, it needs to go further. It’s not enough to observe for needs, and filter based on criteria. At the same time, we got feedback from people, mostly investors and advisors. That’s all good. As in reality, advice can also be conflicting from experts. So who do you listen to?
  3. Connect the dots from need to concepts. Due to time, we weren’t able to spend more time in the need to concept part of the process. This situation reminds me of what’s called the problem-solution fit. Often times, it’s not one concept but a series or several concepts all at once. As in lean methodology, test the concepts. Use it to gather input what works or doesn’t work about the concepts.
If possible, validation from potential customers is all that counts. Who the validation comes from is key. Getting validation early is better.

For more reading on some of the tools and methodologies that can help get from need to concept or problem to solution, I recommend the following, which I’m personally very familiar with through out my own startup and professional career from market researcher to product manager:

Talk on “Jobs to be done” framework by Ulwick

What’s cool? This week, I had a privilege of going on a tour of TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital by the CEO and COO. TIRR stands for The Institute of Rehabilitation and Research. It’s one of the top rehab hospitals in the country, and it’s nestled in the Texas Medical Center. Post acute care, this is where people with the most severe cases come to relearn how to walk, reuse their bodily function after a stroke, gunshot wound, and etc. Look at the video of my teammate Joowon trying out an exoskeleton robot:

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