Contact us
Product discovery process in HTD Health
Product discovery process in HTD Health
Back to Insights


Let’s disco! – HTD Health’s approach to product discovery

Share this article

Oct 03, 2023

7 min read

Three of the most common—and challenging—questions that we receive when discussing a new technology idea with healthcare stakeholders are:

Get research, news and industry trends delivered to your inbox.

Newsletter terms

“How can I bring this idea to life? How much will this cost? How long will it take to complete?” 

While strategy, cost, and timeline information are crucial for any organizational decision maker, these questions can also be nearly impossible to answer without specific knowledge and precise product planning. Some technology groups impose project requirements or limitations in order to more routinely answer this question. However, HTD Health’s philosophy is that every organization’s needs are different and therefore their approach to technology and user experience must be as well.

We have developed a flexible engagement that we call Discovery or “DISCO” that allows our team to help clients design and plan technology systems in order to reach a concrete project plan, timeline, and cost estimate.

When creating a new digital product or software system, there are different tiers of information required. These can be thought of similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Without the fundamental needs and goals identified, the more precise details are impossible to plan—or likely to be wrong. As such, we tailor engagements for the discovery phase to meet clients where they are in the product planning process.

Double Diamond Design framework

For those unfamiliar, the British Design Council’s Double Diamond framework is a process for exploring an issue more widely or deeply (divergent thinking) and then taking focused action (convergent thinking).

Double Diamond Design Framework by HTD

In this framework, there are two consecutive phases, each made up of divergent and convergent thinking.

Discover: The first divergent path is meant to help stakeholders understand—rather than simply assume—what key problems need to be solved. This work typically involves speaking with the people who have real lived experience with a particular issue.

Define: These insights converge in a define phase, which is meant to narrow problem areas to a very specific goal or need to be addressed.

Develop: The second divergent path encourages stakeholders to broadly explore ideas for how to solve the specific goal or need identified in the previous phase.

Deliver: The final step involves again narrowing down from a broad list of solutions to focus on delivering one specific scope or idea.

Together, these stages work as a map for designers to organize their thoughts and improve the creative process for business stakeholders.

6 Phases of an HTD Health product discovery process

From HTD’s experience delivering hundreds of new healthcare products to market, we developed our own framework to help clients clearly identify their high-level product strategy, and then determine the optimal path to deliver a specific product scope.

An excellent Product Strategy Discovery will include user research to deeply understand the problems that users are facing, problem analysis to evaluate and prioritize those problems, and finally, structured ideation on how these problems might be solved by a new product or service.

Once a clear problem statement has been defined, the Scoping Discovery phase takes clients through a series of workshops to identify the specific solution that they will bring to market, prioritize and scope an initial MVP (minimum viable product), and plan the delivery with cost and time estimates.

The graphic below lays out the workshops we run with clients, starting with gathering the most fundamental assumptions and ending with a precise action plan.

6 Phases of Discovery Process by HTD Health

Product strategy discovery phase, explained


We believe that every piece of software should be built to solve clear challenges or needs of people. User research—or collecting information from the target audience—is a crucial step in designing any new digital product, especially in healthcare. Healthcare is riddled with poor user experience, both for patients, clinicians, and everyone in between. Poor patient experience can lead to frustrated, disengaged patients which in turn may affect the efficacy of a certain course of treatment. Poor provider experience can add to the cognitive burden and contribute to the growing problem of clinician burnout. One way to make sure that your product or solution is not contributing to the noise, is to speak to those “users” who you hope to reach.

There are many different research methods that can be used here, but most common are in-depth user interviews. Interviewees speak with prospective end users—whether patients, doctors, nurses, employer benefit team members, etc.—and drill down into their current experience in the product focus area. What does their journey look like now? What different steps or processes are involved? Where are the challenges or pain points? This information collected from 5-10 interviewees forms a crucial baseline of knowledge to inform product strategy.

Other methods such as focus groups, diary studies, and ethnographic field studies can also be used to collect this background context. User personas are often created to represent each key segment of users with clear characteristics or differences. Personas help the team empathize with end users throughout the entire product strategy and scoping phases.

Problem analysis

Next, research findings can be used to more broadly summarize the key problems that a new product could solve. This phase of work involves prioritizing problems, reviewing competitors or other solutions already operating in the space, and beginning to drill down on the key value proposition that a product should offer.

Get research, news and industry trends delivered 
to your inbox.

Newsletter terms

We find the most success in the problem analysis phase of work through collaborative design thinking workshops with client stakeholders. Some of these processes include:

  • Lean Business Canvas Creation
  • Empathy Mapping
  • Opportunity Mapping


Finally, with key problems identified, it’s time to move on to the ideation phase. What are some of the different ways a product could support an end user and solve these commonly experienced pain points?

Like with the problem analysis above, there are many design thinking methods we can leverage to help teams productively think through high-level solutions. Examples include:

  • Patient Journey Mapping
  • Opportunity Solution Trees
  • Value Proposition Canvases

With strategy work complete, the more detailed work of product scoping can begin.

For some clients who have already completed in-depth strategy work on their own, a discovery engagement may jump ahead to start scoping activities.

Scoping discovery phase - Explained

Defining solutions

It is a common misconception that ideation is the same as defining a solution. But in many cases, ideation produces a big vision of how to solve common problems. When it comes to actually designing a product, definitions must get much more specific.

For instance, one way to solve a common pain point of inefficient waiting room time is to allow patients to check in and fill out paperwork virtually before an appointment. The idea, in this case, is “virtual check-in”, but how do we define the solution?

  • What series of actions must a clinician take to actually deploy this check-in to patients before their appointment?
  • How much advance notice do they need?
  • What format does this take?
  • How is information added into core clinical systems?
  • And most importantly, how is this solution unique from existing options that frustrate patients?

HTD Health employs a number of tools to visualize the user experience and define possible solutions like user stories and low-fidelity wireframes.

In parallel with the user experience definition above, the solution also needs a clear technical plan. What architecture or tech stack will be required to support the contemplated solution?

Typically this involves:

  • Determining the format of a product—for instance a web application or mobile application
  • Selecting the preferred framework or language with which the product will be developed
  • Vetting and selecting third-party solutions that may be necessary for the system (read more about our methodology in our Build vs. Buy guide)
  • Designing the broader architecture and how data will flow between platforms
Let’s Disco! - HTD Health’s approach to product discovery process

Prioritization and scoping

With a system designed at both the user experience and technology architecture levels, the team can begin to plan the implementation of this system. In most cases, the final product vision is quite large and complex. Rather than waiting to build an incredibly complicated final version, it often makes sense to prioritize a more narrow initial MVP (“minimum viable product”) to release first to gather user feedback and gauge sales potential. This phase of work involves working with the client team to prioritize product features into a release roadmap.

Scoping involves a detailed step-by-step analysis of what’s required to design or build each component or feature of the product. Subject matter and technology experts verify the actions and time required for each phase of implementation, summarized in a full implementation roadmap.


Finally, we return to our initial question—with an estimate of the cost and time required to build the contemplated solution. Rather than a high-level benchmark, estimates coming out of discovery phase of work are much more reliable for budget and business planning.

All assets created during this process, including the delivery action plan and estimation, are yours to use as you please, whether that’s with HTD Health, creating buy-in within your organization, or leveraging for fundraising. When you are ready to begin work, we’ll both have a strong understanding of what needs to be done and how to measure the impact towards your long-term goals.

De-risk your development

The core benefit of a customized discovery engagement is that it dramatically reduces risk in project delivery. Discovery work uncovers key information for both business stakeholders and technical team members:

  • The key problem or challenge that a solution is targeting
  • A deep understanding of each group of users who will engage with the solution and how their needs differ
  • What a customer or user journey looks like from first to last touchpoint (or ongoing engagement)
  • What the specific technology solution will look like—both from an architecture and design standpoint
  • How the product will be delivered, with specific understanding of skillsets and third-party systems required
  • What to expect from a timeline and cost perspective

Get research, news and industry trends delivered 
to your inbox.

Newsletter terms

Not only are estimates and timelines more reliable, but client stakeholders have a much clearer vision of the product to guide decision making and review throughout the process. Working with a team knowledgeable about both healthcare best practices and software design and development best practices can be incredibly illuminating for client stakeholders. They may uncover issues or challenges they did not anticipate, or identify shortcuts for complex processes. With a discovery report in hand, business stakeholders can make the important planning decisions required to bring a new product to market.

Book a free consultation with the HTD Health team today to learn more about our process and begin planning your digital health product. Email to get in touch.

Olka is a Product Discovery Lead and Senior Product Designer at HTD Health. She has over a decade of experience in UX/UI and user-centered design best practices. Elise is Head of Growth at HTD Health, with a background in user experience research, design, and digital health strategy.

Other content you may be interested in

View all articles
What is SMART on FHIR

Apr 30, 2023

7 min read


Understanding SMART on FHIR

Read more
Healthcare app development

Apr 07, 2023

6 min read


Healthcare software development: An industry overview

Read more
fhir hl7 data standard

May 03, 2022

8 min read


SMART on FHIR development, explained – Whitepaper

Read more