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by Medtronic LABS

SPICE Digital Health Platform Developed By System Thinking

When tasked with designing a digital health platform that would expand healthcare access to patients, families, and communities in low-resource settings, we needed to adopt a new way of product development to overcome remote location accessibility barriers, cost, and low healthcare adoption rates that many digital health systems experienced.  

To overcome barriers and improve enablement by hospitals and community volunteers in remote locations, we reframed our way of thinking to seek out new ways to support patients’ healthcare journeys, challenge current approaches, and infer what might be possible. If we were going to reimagine digital healthcare, we decided to view the whole-picture healthcare system instead of limiting our research only to digital healthcare platforms. We wanted to understand how the whole healthcare ecosystem interacts together within underserved communities, why it works the way it does, and apply problem solving to imagine what might be possible today to improve people’s lives in the future. 

To create a digital health platform that supports the full spectrum of user needs, we had to design with our stakeholders involved. Instead of having our programmers design the system, our users became the designers of SPICE. We co-designed with patients, clinical health doctors, and community health volunteers who are all located in underserved communities. These stakeholders traditionally rarely have a voice in healthcare systems innovation. 

SPICE Digital Health Platform
SPICE Digital Health Platform, Mavinidini Health Center, Makeuni County, Kenya

Throughout the development lifecycle; from ideation, research, design, build, test, and deploy, we collaborated, iterated, and identified new concepts with these stakeholders. We uncovered underlying issues restricting digital healthcare adoption and adherence, and learned about the interdependence of digital systems, field operator application, and patient treatment and support. All these inputs, considerations, and interconnections enabled us to create a new approach to digital healthcare for underserved populations. 

SPICE, our digital health platform, enables clinical management directly for the local community. Care teams use SPICE easy to use workflows to screen, diagnose, risk-stratify, manage, and improve clinical outcomes for enhanced chronic disease management. For dependable use in remote field locations, we built the platform on modern microservice based architecture and cloud technologies that also allow for security, flexibility, and scale into new geographies. Real-time data dashboards help us measure clinical outcome performance, population health indicators, and improve care delivery. 

SPICE Digital Health Platform, accessible and hyper-local

As a consequence of developing for the whole health care system, SPICE technology enables end-to-end hyper-local patient services designed for underserved communities. Care teams now efficiently offer community screening, diagnosis, as well as patient-tailored education, tele-counseling and tele-medicine, and in-person and remote access peer support groups, patient education and care journeys customized for every patient. To increase patient program adherence, patient engagement is available conveniently via SMS, WhatsAPP, and voice options.

Systems thinking helped us better understand the health care ecosystem for low-resource communities. Identifying the gaps, unmet user needs, and incorporating stakeholder feedback in design enabled us to develop a digitally enabled health system that is now applied in the field and currently impacting the lives of chronic disease patients throughout the world. 

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