Private doctors in Singapore use the latest and most cutting-edge technology to perform medical procedures and patients from all over the world come here to get themselves treated. In fact, Singapore is 6th on the WHO list of 191 countries with the best health care systems, and Singapore medical tourism attracted 30% of all the people who went abroad for medical tourism in 2011. Despite this, the IT systems in private clinics are so archaic that as a computer engineer, I felt morally obligated to do something about it.
As a patient, one of the biggest difficulties is to get specific information about the procedures performed by doctors and to know their availability. So we felt that an appointment management system would be the best place to start. But as we realized after a few months of trying to sell our product to clinics, appointment scheduling was not a problem at all in the eyes of the doctor. They did not mind the fact that their patients were waiting outside, and they did not care about optimizing their appointment flow. We saw the future, but we could not sell it to them.
So we decided to stop talking and start listening. We spoke to over 60 doctors and secretaries in clinics, and the problem they kept coming back to was the difficulty with managing patient records – not a single one mentioned appointments. We were also able to get an objective viewpoint of the situation from both the eyes of the doctor and that of the secretary. We realized that the same broadly defined problem presented different pain points to the doctor and the secretary.
Once we got a feel of the problem from our customers point of view, we then applied our knowledge of technology to the problem and proposed a solution. And just like that, doctors who had earlier shown little inclination towards our product, now wanted to talk, have trial runs and even referred other doctors to us. Some even wanted to invest! Secretaries who used to look at us warily, as yet another vendor who would add to their workload, now wanted to hear what we had to say and saw that we really meant to reduce their work, not increase it.
All it took was a sincere and open minded dive into the head of our customer.