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But does it work? Putting digital health tools to the test

December 3, 2018

By Jennifer Lee

Bringing new technology into healthcare isn’t an easy task. While there are a lot of tools out there that look like they will add value, putting them to the test can yield surprising results.

On November 6, Jay Shaw, scientist, Women's College Research Institute (WCRI) and the WCH Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV), and Dr. Onil Bhattacharyya, senior scientist, WCRI and innovation fellow, WIHV, gave a talk on “Digital Transformation in Health Systems: A Service Design Perspective.”

Both highlighted that in a lot of ways, digital technology holds great promise for healthcare. It can improve reach to those living further away from healthcare centres and it can put patients in touch with care teams quickly when they need to get advice. But while this is the case, field testing tools is a necessary part of teasing out actual from theoretical benefits.

“One of the first steps of value proposition design is figuring out what jobs need to be done. What are people trying to do in the context of a particular patient encounter,” says Dr. Onil Bhattacharyya. Staying grounded in the service that is being provided is an essential part of evaluating digital health tools to see who they produce value for. In healthcare, while you have a technology vendor, caregivers, patients, institutions and a payer – each of these groups can see value differently.

When it comes to designing tools that will produce a benefit, Jay Shaw says it’s important to put tech “in people’s hands, to learn something quickly. You’ll ideate better, you’ll define better and you’ll have a better iteration in the next round.”

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