Poorly executed innovations have ripple effects throughout an industry

If someone has a terrible experience with something new, they’ll be an outspoken hater. And this can flavor an entire category of innovation.

For example, if someone uses Teladoc or Doctor on Demand for anything other than the ~30 simple issues they can treat, and they waste $79 on trying something new, they’ll probably begin believing that an online doctor can’t really do much for them. Then, next time, they’ll probably just visit an old-fashioned urgent care center because, while expensive and annoying, it’s tried and true and they know what they’re going to get.

Healthcare is plagued by wonky “innovations” that don’t delight users and work as promised:

  • Price transparency tools
  • Video visits with random, unknown doctors
  • Anything wellness
  • Activity trackers
  • Pill-shaming digital pills
  • Medication reminders
  • AI for cancer
  • Theranos
  • Psychotherapy chatbots
  • Healthcare Alexa

The list goes on and on. Healthcare’s hard. It can’t really be automated and it’s almost impossible to build a real revenue-generating healthcare innovation.An app to remind you to take your medication will soon start feeling like a frustrating nag. So you turn off the notifications. You can try and find the price of some procedure and feel empowered that you know the cost of a medical procedure only to get a bill a few weeks later for 3 times the cost of what you expected. And you have no recourse. You’re feeling down so you fire up some new therapy chatbot which makes you realize that the reason why you chose a human therapist last time was because you felt that human actually cared about you.

Raising the bar for innovation usefulness in healthcare will help all healthcare innovators. I’m often critical of new innovations in healthcare mostly because I care so damn much. After 10 years of banging my head against the wall, I still have faith in us. I still have faith that someday, with plenty of blood, sweat, and tears, we’ll create something far better than what exists today. I know how difficult creating something great is because I live this everyday with Sherpaa. And I’m also aware of the minimum viable product concept and how you should be embarrassed by your initial releases just so you can get something out there and see how it works.

Just keep in mind that innovation is an ecosystem and poor user experiences influence us all. Healthcare has to step up its game. I beg you. Don’t create things just because you can. Don’t create things without asking a single patient if that’s what they want. Don’t create things that dehumanize care just because you think it could be a unicorn. Here’s a spoiler alert: it won’t be.