At the medtech and pharma platform 2021, Beat Walther explained how to reduce guesswork in digital health innovation with the Stakeholder-Focused innovation approach:

The Stakeholder-Focused Innovation (SFI) approach defines the Value Proposition of new digital solutions in MedTech and Pharma before even starting development. SFI reduces guesswork and minimizes resources spent.

While agile and iterative innovation processes have started to gain interest also in MedTech and Pharma, such approaches have industry specific limitations. User-centered trial and error approaches are ethically unthinkable, regulatory complex, risky and costly. In Pharma and in MedTech trial and error approaches cannot be the solution. Nevertheless, agility and speed are indispensable to keep up with the inherent velocity of digital innovation.

SFI runs in 3 systematic steps. First, SFI determines which stakeholders are relevant to an innovation idea through stakeholder mapping revealing most critical user groups.

A second step investigates the so-called Job-to-be-done of each critical user qualitatively first, directly followed by a quantitative validation to identify Pain Points. A Job-to-be-done is a solution-agnostic way to describe the underlying process and goal a stakeholder is trying to get done. An example of such a Job might be «to regulate my blood sugar level» for type 2 diabetes patients. Note that no solution (e.g., insulin pens, pumps or other means) is mentioned. The Jobs-to-be-done perspective is critical to understand stakeholders independent of a specific solution. This will allow to test many solution-concepts against the findings.
The Job-to-be-done of each stakeholder group is then researched through qualitative and quantitative methods to identify Pain Points. Pain Points validated on a quantitative basis ends guesswork on what matters to stakeholders.

In the third step the findings need to be put into a convincing narrative that appeals to the stakeholders. The framework to create such narratives is called the Promise-centered Value Proposition framework that has been developed and refined in over 100 projects with large companies and startups in MedTech, Pharma and beyond. Promise-centered Value Propositions combine the findings of step 2 and the features of a potential solution through elaborating a core promise to the stakeholder. The promise to the stakeholder functions as a hinge between the need or problem space and the solution space: Innovations must promise to solve the most relevant stakeholder Pain Points and support that promise through feature specifications and dedicated solution concepts. These narratives can be iteratively tested and improved using agile techniques – before any resources are committed to the actual development of the solution.

In this way SFI allows for fast agile and iterative methods in healthcare on a conceptual level before significant development resources are committed while also reducing guesswork. Promise-centered Value Propositions are additionally useful to guide development and align various teams.