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Healthcare is Becoming More Personal and User Research More Essential

In today’s episode of Inside Health Tech, Alan Sun, the VP of Product at Apixio, joins our host Mark Scott to discuss common assumptions people have regarding healthcare. But, as Alan admits, he also had some misconceptions prior to entering the field.

Alan also shares other lessons he learned during the past 20 years since he joined the industry. One of the most valuable lessons refers to product development and how this is a particularly challenging area due to fears from patients. So, understanding how you are building the product is the key to success.

Our guest also talks about the significance of user research, emphasizing that healthcare is becoming more personal. And that’s another aspect proving the importance of data within the healthcare industry.


  • Noteworthy: Alan is an experienced product management leader passionate about improving patient outcomes. In the past two decades, he dedicates his time to delivering solutions across the healthcare landscape, serving patients, providers, payers, employers, and pharma/biotech manufacturers.
  • Where to find Alan: LinkedIn

Key Insights

  • Healthcare is a challenging area from a regulatory perspective, but it varies a lot based on the types of problems. People often have wrong assumptions regarding healthcare. Some of the most common are related to regulatory issues. Even Alan admits he thought strict regulations disable changes or, at least, slow them down. ”I was so focused on some of the regulatory things—that complexity into the products that we’re building in. There may have been simple ways where we didn’t have to think about that or developing processes that were inherently slower and methodical, not as lean as we’re doing today. It was this overly concerned regulatory environment.”
  • User research is still a novelty in healthcare. As our guest explains, it’s one thing to ask how things should work and another to observe what’s happening. So, healthcare has to embrace contemporary methods in determining the best ways to provide its services. Therefore, user research is of the utmost importance. ”There wasn’t a whole lot of user research being done. I feel like those were practices that may have been more pervasive in other technology sectors, user-centered design, design thinking. Those didn’t apply at quite the same levels within healthcare. So that was a novel thing that we needed to work through within an organization. Develop that competency, develop that understanding of how to enact that, and put it into practice efficiently and beneficially. So the step that we need to do is make sure that we’re transparent around what we’re trying to do.”
  • Healthcare is evolving and is becoming more distributed. According to Alan, many companies focus on specific disease categories, driving positive outcomes in those areas. Those are services that are occurring outside of the traditional place of service or the point of care. ”As these services continue to expand, we, as patients, begin to take greater control of the management of our health and make choices regarding services we need. It will be entered in different environments; it will be collected through wearables for monitoring and managing it. And so we’re going to see pre-distributed, more fragmented data collection and data use across the industry.”


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