Creating Successful Products for Patients And Health Care Professionals


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ReD’s relationship with Coloplast, a Danish medical devices manufacturer, has hinged on one of the most important topics in the healthcare business today: patient compliance. Many patients are unable or unwilling to follow a prescribed course of care. As R&D in the healthcare industry has reached a certain level of maturity, there are fewer “big bets”—including blockbuster drugs—that find their way to the market. As a result, the conversation has shifted focus from the product or drug to the consumer.

Products and services that target the needs of the patient—to simplify the treatment of wounds or chronic diseases—are what drive compliance. With greater compliance comes better healthcare economics: It makes the healthcare industry more efficient, it reduces the burden on governments, it makes patient management better and it makes patients get well faster. For Coloplast, it also ensures the company’s long-term competitiveness.
ReD has helped Coloplast make this transition with an intricate, more micro-level approach to innovation. That has taken many forms, from pinpointing how packaging and product design can help healthcare professionals find and use the right products to developing a strategy that suits patients’ practical and emotional needs.

While some ReD projects for Coloplast have focused on understanding patients’ feelings about the practical issues surrounding disease and its emotional repercussions, others have taken a more bottom-line approach. One project, about understanding what drives product choice in hospitals and in home care, took place because Coloplast wanted to improve its chronic care business and to increase market share. For the study ReD shadowed and interviewed patients, nurses, doctors, and purchasers in Europe. What we discovered was a gap in care between specialist nurses and less experienced ward nurses who covered for the off-duty specialist nurses.

Because ward nurses often applied the products in the wrong way or used the wrong dressings on wounds, patients took longer to get well and the specialist nurses and doctors became concerned that their good work was being undone. ReD advised Coloplast to change their packaging in ways that would help make things easier for the less-experienced nurses, and Coloplast implemented some of those ideas in 2009-2010.

ReD has also worked with Coloplast on numerous projects concerning wound care, ostomy, and continence care, and on how, and how often, to launch new innovation platforms.

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