The big question: are you faking your innovation?

Elisa del Galdo|23rd August 2018

Every company aspires to be innovative and to develop a product or service that changes the world. From Dyson’s vacuum cleaner to the Apple iPhone, it’s easy to reel off a long list of innovative companies that have transformed the way we live our daily lives.

For many, it’s an ‘ah ha’ moment. For others, it is building a creative service or new technology. However, if we reduce innovation to the outcomes we produce, the hard work behind creating cutting -edge products or services remains a mystery. Instead, the path to innovation is simple.

The best CEOs understand it’s not a moment in time or gimmicky tech, they see innovation as a process with a deep understanding of the customer at its core.

What is true innovation?

Innovation starts with a problem and a business goal. When these two points meet, we can revolutionise our customers’ experiences.

Knowledge about your target customer – their drivers, motivations, barriers, pain points, context, environment, and demographics – is the foundation of true innovation.

For example, in the summer of 2017 fast food giant McDonalds rolled out its new cashier kiosks. The digital system gave customers the option to quickly order food from a touchscreen, rather than interacting with a cashier. While customers probably wouldn’t have appreciated this system at a higher end restaurant, McDonald's knew its customers valued fast service over the experience of a person serving them.

This innovation, combined the customer’s need for efficiency and the commercial drive for profit, leading to huge success. The automated service cut costs for the organisation and contributed to a 26% increase in share value.

A new view of an old solution

Innovation does not always have to be about shiny, new technology. Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to look around at the existing environment.

At BLH, we recently conducted research into the needs of COPD patients and found they often felt unsure about their condition, leading to unnecessary emergency room visits. This was costing the UK National Health Service (NHS) time and money.

To solve this problem, we developed the COPD Telephone Patient Service. The concept used an automated phone system to monitor patients care requirements remotely and solve their challenges. The service used the insight that COPD patients are often older and find it easier to use technology they are familiar with. At the same time, it served the success metrics of the NHS – better outcomes via lower cost.

"It delivered a 29% reduction in unnecessary hospital admissions"

The phone technology was widely available, so patients could easily take advantage of the system. Most of these patients had other conditions, such as short-term memory loss or visual impairments, so a digital solution via a tablet or smartphone was unlikely to be useful. The COPD system simply called the patient and asked a number of questions, comparing the current answers with previous answers to ascertain if intervention by a healthcare professional was required.

If a patient experienced difficulties, they were then called by a nurse and given instructions. This simple system cut costs significantly for the NHS, and patients reported a reduction in their anxiety and depression. It also delivered a 29% reduction in unnecessary hospital admissions, when compared to patients who were not using the phone system.

Innovation is so much more than the ‘ah ha’ moment – it is an iterative journey, which delivers a solution that is fit for purpose. Sometimes it disrupts convention, uses new technology and is shiny and bright, but often the simplest solution can be the most transformative.

At Blue Latitude Health, we are experts in developing innovative services. Get in touch with elisa.delgaldo@bluelatitude.com to find out how we can help you transform your customers’ experience.

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