Developing a Business Case for UX in Healthcare Product Development

Scott Plewes | November 8, 2018 | 5 Min Read

User Experience is a key element in ensuring product market success. Yet many product managers forgo UX in order to shave costs. This post looks at how to make the business case to quickly demonstrate the value of investing in UX.

In a recent blog post, we discussed what user experience (UX) is and what it isn’t. This blog post looks at the next step which is how to develop a business case to invest in this kind of system optimization. There are three key elements you should consider to quickly demonstrate the value of investing in UX.

Where Does the Problem Lie?

A user experience problem (or opportunity) exists anywhere people are interacting with software, product, or services. The first step is to identify the part of the business ecosystem where you believe the UX pain point or opportunity might “lie”. You may want to look at areas such as:

  • Customer drop-off rates on your website,
  • The number of support calls received,
  • Why sales volumes are low,
  • Customer feedback that your application is too complex, isn’t visually appealing, or isn’t intuitive to users,
  • or are there parts of your operations which are manual that could be automated?

Frame and Define the UX Problem Properly

The second step is where most people fail to make the connection to the business opportunity. In complex enterprise ecosystems, defining the problem can be quite a lengthy process. It is much more effective when executed by a multidisciplinary team. The rationale being simply because different people with varying experiences will bring unique perspectives and insights to the table. UX designers typically refer to this process as ecosystem mapping. This is where the people, processes, tools, and information that interact with your product/business (and with each other) are visualized in a system, or web and the flow of value through that system is identified.

To identify any gaps or opportunities, you will need to develop a visualization of the business ecosystem. The easiest way to do this to identify the people/organizations first. Then add in the technologies and where the money is coming from. Do this for both the business of today and of the future and see where the people, technology, and business issues overlap. It is not absolutely necessary to draw the ecosystem to do the calculation of whether or not investing in UX is worth the resources, but it’s a simple way to ensure you have captured the necessary base components to calculate it correctly.

You Might Also Like: The Importance of Mapping Ecosystems and Understanding the Scale of Design

Complete an Order of Magnitude Estimate

Once you have identified where the business/UX problem(s) lies, you need to tie the problem to something monetary. For example:

  • How much potential revenue did we lose or continue to lose to our competition because of their better UX?
  • How much could I reduce support costs if we could cut support calls in half?
  • How much faster would we recognize revenue if we could increase processing of invoicing by 15% or reduce errors by 20%?

If you have framed the problem correctly and identified the impact of the specified UX improvements, then answering these kinds of questions is usually not very difficult. Since you know what data you have, what you don’t have, and what the problem is, calculating these monetary estimates involves some simple math calculations.

Healthcare Example

An organization has the need to minimize patient visits to the emergency room. They are creating an application or a service to help people manage a condition or illness at home to help reduce emergency room visits. They are considering investing in UX for their application, but aren’t sure if it’s worth it. After identifying UX-related issues within the application and how they can be addressed, they find that implementing the UX changes can actually increase patient engagement and reduce user frustrations with their solution. The resulting increased app adoption and usage will save them an estimated X number of ER visits per year. You can get an order of magnitude estimate on the UX value by taking the cost of a typical ER visit, and number of predicted reduced visits per year and multiplying them out. Then compare that to the cost of your user experience investment.

It’s important to emphasize that you aren’t trying to get an exact answer. The point is to get an idea of how specific UX adjustments will impact your bottom line. Then, you take into account the price tag of the required UX expertise, the time involved, your available resources, etc to identify if it’s worth it for your business. Sometimes the value of investing in user experience is obvious. If you have an opportunity to save a million dollars by investing a few hundred thousand, why wouldn’t you? And conversely, if it is going to cost you a million…

Validate Your Assumptions

If you want to validate some of your assumptions on the ROI of your UX investment, it is helpful to recruit the help of a UX specialist who can give you a sense of the impact. They might not be inclined to do the business calculation (this is why multidisciplinary teams are the best), but they will have the necessary experience to articulate the impact of the user experience research and design work in discussion. Then together, you can do the math and decide if it’s worth developing a full business case for UX and/or investigating more.

So how do you know when you’re “done” this initial high-level estimation of UX value? Your work is complete once you have the following deliverables in hand:

  1. An ecosystem diagram that has identified and framed your UX issue(s).
  2. An order of magnitude estimate of the revenue and profit that results from fixing said UX issue(s). *Note: At this level of estimate, distinctions between contribution, gross margin, EBITA, and so forth should not be on your mind…or you are beyond your order of magnitude estimate.

For more guidance on drawing out your business or product ecosystem to locate and frame your UX problem, see here: Creating Ecosystem Maps to Prioritize Product Investment.

Next Steps?

After completing your ecosystem map and estimating the financial impact of a UX investment, have you decided that UX is worth the time and money at this point in the business? If your answer is yes, congratulations! UX is a critical factor to the market success of a product/service but is an aspect that many tend to overlook.

Moving forward with your decision, you’ll want to begin assessing your UX needs and capabilities to execute on the business case. Contact me if you like some feedback on your business case.

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