Digital DesignLab Aims to Foster Healthcare Innovation

Samara Rosenfeld
MARCH 08, 2019
digital pipeline
Images have been modified. Courtesy of Wilson Lopez.

The Digital DesignLab was created at New York University (NYU) Langone Health to provide structured processes for assessing and supporting the capacity for innovative digital development.

Digital DesignLab is a multidisciplinary, digital development team that guides faculty and student innovators through a digital development “pipeline” and was created off the question, “How might we connect and coordinate innovative research efforts involving novel digital components with our clinical and information technology operations?”

The pipeline consists of intake, discovery, bootcamp and development and provides a framework for digital health innovation and dissemination at the institution.


Phase 1: Intake

In the intake phase, a brief survey is taken to assess applicant status. In a large academic medical center, it can be hard to find a path to digital development. The intake form helps identify who is best to continue representing certain ideas. The web-based form has five questions to give the Digital DesignLab team a better understanding of the proposed project.
 

Phase 2: Discovery

Projects that are chosen for further evaluation move into the discovery phase. There, someone from the Digital DesignLab team hosts an hour-long discovery session with the intake submission team to review the idea, resources and plans for developing their digital solution and additional paths the team has explored.

In the meeting, submitters are asked to reflect on key elements of their product in a user-centered way. Submitters think of a problem statement, key metrics and the unique value proposition of their project.

The member of the Digital DesignLab team then summarizes the information and presents the findings to the full team to discuss the proposal and figure out the next steps. A key part of the discovery is finding the right disposition for the proposal without substantial time or resource investment.
 

Phase 3: Bootcamp

Bootcamp is a two- to three-month period of development. The team completes a “what to expect” document and then creates a timeline with the members of the project team to highlight the goals and steps required to achieve them.

A development “workbook” is the product being made at bootcamp, which serves as a design document, a potential “pitch” deck, an artifact documenting the work of the Digital DesignLab for future bootcamps and evidence of the value of the work to its sponsors.

The project team then presents the document at a close-out session to the DesignLab team and more recommendations are made for the next steps, which include partnering with internal or external teams working on similar products.


Phase 4: Development

Projects developed internally are resource intensive and need to be carefully reviewed for their potential cost and value to the institution.

The DesignLab team supervises product strategy, user experience and technical architecture while software development and coding are outsourced to more cost-effective places. It generally takes about six to nine months for the development of a working prototype or beta of the tool.

In this phase, the digital solution’s dissemination plan is built, which includes recommended channels to ensure the product is optimized for impact and success.


The Need for Innovation

The Digital DesignLab works toward fostering digital health innovation at a large academic medical center and making innovation more accessible by allowing more people to create healthcare solutions.

In its first year, Digital DesignLab received 67 intake forms, held 36 discovery meetings, six bootcamps and is about to graduate its first development project — When to Wonder: Picky Eating, a mobile health application, is preparing for a national launch. 

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