Innovation and the Importance of Solving Human Problems

Antonia Chappell, Senior Director of Growth and Innovation, Consumer Experience

I joined Healthwise after a career at startups where disruptive innovation was the primary objective. The state of innovation in healthcare often sparks a rigorous debate—some believe that the industry has been late to the party, but there are clear signs that it’s reaching an inflection point.


In 2018, over $8.1 billion was invested in digital health startups, according to Rock Health.1 Amazon, Google, and Apple have entered the market and digital technologies—AI, machine learning, blockchain, voice applications and virtual assistants—are being adopted throughout the industry. This suggests that we’re in a transformative time, yet 81% of consumers report that they’re unsatisfied with their healthcare experience.2 So, how do we meet the expectations of today’s digital consumer? How do we ensure they’re at the center of our innovation?

Innovation is a core tenet of our culture at Healthwise. Surprised? While it may seem counterintuitive that a 44-year old company invests in innovation, our mission to help people make better health decisions drives us to solve human problems. Our very first product, the Healthwise® Handbook, provided people with a self-care guide to help them understand and manage their health issues. The Handbook evolved into a digital health encyclopedia, and we continue to expand the ways people benefit from our evidence-based education. But innovation isn’t easy. It requires commitment, collaboration, creativity, tenacity, and, perhaps most importantly, a willingness to learn from failure.

At Healthwise, we start with a problem and use human-centered design principles, grounded in empathy and understanding, to determine the desirability, feasibility, and viability of possible solutions. This approach is aligned with our mission and reminds us of the importance of responding to the 81% of consumers who aren’t satisfied with their experience. Our discovery process emphasizes understanding user experiences and pain points. We ideate, design rapid prototypes, do user testing, and then refine and measure—rinsing and repeating—as necessary. We also engage our customers, whose valuable insights can sometimes tell us that we’ve missed the mark. These failures are an important part of the process. They prevent us from investing in the wrong things and can also help us course correct, which can lead to even more compelling solutions.

So how can we better meet consumers’ needs and make healthcare innovation meaningful to them? We can begin with an understanding of and empathy for their experiences. Whether it’s removing friction in system navigation, meeting people where they’re at, or responding to needs at different moments in care—by listening, learning, and investing in solving human problems, we can be successful.

Join us at HIMSS20 to get ideas, inspiration, and a sneak peek of some of the ways we are innovating for the future.

1 2018 Year End Funding Report: Rock Health

2 The State of Consumer Healthcare, Prophet and GE Camden Group