Part 2: Health Systems & Hospitals Need Product Managers-CANCER

Yesterday I posted an article discussing my “epiphany” for the need of product managers in healthcare. You can review part 1 of this series here: Health Systems & Hospitals Need Product Managers.

So as all good marketers, I decided to test my hypothesis last night as a natural part of the discussion on “Slow Medicine” in the weekly #HCLDR tweet chat. (article, blog, and transcripts linked)

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 1.21.38 PMDr. Scher (@dlschermd) made a great point that healthcare, health systems, and hospitals do not need more managers, they need new business models.

There was also a bit of confusion on what “product manager” means to a health system or a hospital as mentioned in the following responses by Michelle (@PerronServices) and Dr. Katz (@subatomicdoc)

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 1.20.13 PMScreen Shot 2014-11-05 at 1.42.10 PMSo I am going to try and clarify my intention on the use of “product managers” in a health system or hospital by drawing on a few of my own experiences.

One of my projects was to develop an entire oncology service line for a hospital/health system that had never traditionally performed cancer services. I was recruited to perform the task and given the following instructions: 1) Budget 2) 8 months to launch 3) Must be unique in the market place

With my goals and objectives set, I had to think about what I was going to create, who I am creating it for, how can I make it meaningful, and what do I need to make it a reality.

This Venn Diagram simplifies it:

what_is_a_product_managerSo I naturally began with the end in mind. I am producing care for cancer patients. I have experience in doing this before, but not in this market. It is highly competitive, all the hospitals are spending money on new technology, and we have no brand recognition. So how do I develop something that is not another “me too” offering?

So I took the question to patients. I took it to the community. I took it to family members. I asked local businesses. I asked students, physicians, insurance companies, architects, people staying at hotels. I asked competitive hospitals. I asked anyone that was willing to talk to me and answer a few questions.

I asked simple questions such as:

1) What does cancer care meant to you?

2) What do you expect from a health system that cares for people with cancer?

3) If you or a loved one was worried about cancer where would you go to get it checked out? Or if you have cancer, where would you go to be treated? Why?

The information or “insights” that I learned from asking these types of questions allowed me to understand that I could develop something entirely unique in the market place. I could create a care model for cancer designed by patients, for patients in the community, and support them when they needed it most.

I can simplify all of the information into 3 key categories:


TIME: I discovered that patients wanted timely care. This doesn’t always mean the fastest, but it means that the timing of the care is on their terms. So I needed to understand that nationally the average turn around time for all cancer diagnosis is around 10 days. I understood that the biggest bottle neck in a diagnosis is tissue and pathology.

TEAM: Patients wanted to feel as if they had a team focusing on their care. They wanted to be included sometimes as the quarterback, other times as a defensive end, and other times as a wide receiver. Patients wanted a team to focus on making the right diagnosis, educating them on the options for treatment and research, and helping them cope with treatments and recovery.

TRANSITIONS: Patients didn’t want to go on this journey alone. They wanted to be guided. They needed resources. They needed to focus on getting better and not who to see when, what time, and where to go next. The more transitions, the more anxiety patients felt. The more anxiety, the decrease in patient engagement and outcomes. The higher the probability to lose your patient.

I brought in a team of community members, patients, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals that understood what we were creating. We create care for people impacted by cancer.

Most of my colleagues in healthcare will refer to this as a service. The dictionary defines service as an act of helpful activity; the supplier of commodities; providing activities required by the public such as maintenance or repair.

I refer to this as a product. A product is defined by the dictionary as a thing produced by labor; a thing produced resulting form a process; the totality of goods or services that a company makes available; output.

I was able to put a team together that had a focus on what we were producing. We produced care for patients and families impacted by cancer that was on time, with a team, and seamless transitions.

Because we focused on our work as a product instead of a service it gave me the ability to force everyone to keep the end user at the front of every discussion. We didn’t need a Chief Experience Officer, we didn’t leverage Press Ganey, we just focused on producing something that our end users wanted in their care:


It is my opinion that the more we begin to open up ourselves to thinking more like product managers that we can strategically invest in what we need and divest in what doesn’t add value.

On both sides of the battle we will always keep the end user at the forefront, patients, physicians, the public, and payors.

As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or follow me on twitter @cancergeek


#PtExp #PX #cancer #hcldr #hccosts #hcsm #stories #storytelling #hcmktg #mktg #storyteller #consumerism #hcbiz #CX #UX #UI #Bioethx #storytelling #stories #ContentMarketing #HIT #PX2014 #health #wellness #design #whatifhc #data4health

One response to “Part 2: Health Systems & Hospitals Need Product Managers-CANCER

  1. I agree that there are too many chiefs sometimes. In reading this there needs to be a designated “Team” Leader to facilitate the “time” and “transition” issues you speak of. I agree this does not warrant a whole position but someone to carry these valuable concepts through. Love this breakdown of “team-time-transition”. Very useful for mental health care as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s