Skip navigation EPAM

Investing in the Patient Experience

Why Co-Creating Solutions with Your Users is Key to Driving Adoption

Investing in the Patient Experience

Why Co-Creating Solutions with Your Users is Key to Driving Adoption

At first glance, the healthcare sector appears to be booming. In 2023, the market size value is estimated at $245.3 billion, with a revenue forecast of $809.2 billion by 2030 – a growth rate of 18.6% over seven years. And thanks to investors, innovation continues to brim at the seams. More than $40 billion in venture capital was spent on everything from nanomedicine to the Internet of Medical Things in 2021 alone.

Yet, it has been estimated that between 90-98% of digital healthcare start-ups face severe challenges in delivering outcomes, especially between two to five years after inception. And, in an unstable economic environment like the one we now face, investors are increasingly anxious to see a return on their investments.  

This begs the question: how can healthcare start-ups increase their odds of success in an unstable economic environment?

Where It All Starts: The Patient

In the complex field of healthcare, there are a variety of stakeholders whom businesses must consider in their operations – the most important of which often gets overlooked: the patient. How much do healthcare techs really understand their patients’ experiences? Their treatment journeys? Their expectations? Their lives? And, more importantly, how are these understandings being integrated into the design and development of these solutions?

To truly center the patient, the healthcare industry must prioritize investing in them. They need to invest in adopting “a beginner’s mindset.”

The fundamental starting point in healthcare tech is admitting that you don’t know what it’s like to use your technology as a primary user. 

Once businesses have acknowledged this crucial fact, they can start to put together a roadmap for learning about their users, fully immersing themselves in their experiences and using their feedback to design their solutions – one that includes the user at every step of the journey.

Let’s take a look at what this looks like in practice.

Understanding the Experiences of Patients with Bipolar Disorder

As a doctoral student, I examined patient involvement in the design of remote-monitoring technology for mental health – specifically I looked at how to design and develop a digital tool to help those with bipolar disorder self-track leveraging mobile sensing methods.

As the primary use case was individual self-tracking, it seemed obvious that the user would be involved in the design of such technology. Upon further investigation, however, it turned out that of all the self-tracking tools already on the market for those with bipolar disorder, most of them – 36% in fact – had no user involvement in the design and development of their solutions. It’s no wonder there is a high level of disengagement seen with this type of technology.

To increase our odds of success, my team and I adopted a standard approach in user experience research: running a series of workshops with our intended users. This step in and of itself is essential to understanding users better.

However, we took it a step further. We also designed the workshop alongside those with bipolar disorder. Not only did they help design the workshops, but they co-facilitated them, helping to foster an open environment among peers.

For example, through the help of the lived experience of our co-researchers, I learned that hosting the workshop in a coffee shop (i.e., a neutral environment) away from a university or business setting would promote more open conversation, as these places have connections to their psychiatrists – who fundamentally had complete control of their care and freedom. They shared the right terminology to use in our questions and how to describe self tracking so it felt more approachable.

With the help of our primary users, we ran two workshops to large success, using the findings in a subsequent session to explore their accuracy and augment the findings. The feedback was overwhelming. One woman stopped me with tears in her eyes describing how she, as a patient, has never been asked what she needs in this way.

From this experience, we found that users self-tracked for social and communicative reasons – directly disproving the literature. We found that choice and control over their data were huge motivating factors in the adoption of the tool – things we wouldn’t have learned if we hadn’t co-created these experiences with our users.

These findings informed our final product – and it paid off.

When we rolled the tool out for a 6-month period, we had a dropout rate of less than 10% - a remarkable success, especially when it comes to self-tracking health apps, which often see dropout rates of over 50%. By investing the time and resources to create a patient experience alongside the patient, we created an app with an incredibly high usage rate.


My experience is not an anomaly. To ensure that their solutions are a success, healthcare techs must ensure they are investing the time and resources necessary to understand the patient journey. In today’s environment, this is a non-negotiable as businesses look to ensure growth and boost revenue in the long term. By adopting that “beginner’s mindset,” health techs can begin to understand what works, what doesn’t and, most importantly, the everyday experiences of primary users to improve the patient journey from the “inside in.”


Hi! We’d love to hear from you.

Want to talk to us about your business needs?