My client, a top 5 pharmaceutical was unsure if its injectable device R&D portfolio was properly aligned with patient needs. Furthermore, competition and complexity (drugs and regimens) in its market was increasing rapidly, making it imperative to improve the patient experience and bring unified product-service solutions addressing patient and physician needs.


I began the innovation process by defining and framing the primary goals of the key health stakeholders and users, independent of current solutions used. Goals persist for as long as diabetes exists or the activities performed to achieve the goals have unmet need. Solutions and technologies come and go, but the goal remains the same. 

Next, I identified the component activities that users performed to achieve the selected goal, and linked them in an activity map. In the case of a diabetic person using a blood glucose measurement device (irrespective of its type and form, i.e., the solution), these activities included: 

  • Select a blood glucose measurement device 

  • Monitor blood glucose levels 

  • Interpret a blood glucose level 

  • Determine the impact of food and drink on blood glucose levels

  • Determine the impact of contextual events on blood glucose levels, e.g., sleep, exercise, illness, etc. 

  • Take action to change a blood glucose level

Once activities are defined in this way, the next step in the innovation task was to ascertain which of these activities stakeholders wished to improve to meet their outcomes and, ultimately, to achieve the goal That is: which activities did they wish to do better, to do faster, to do more reliably, to do in certain contexts and which they would rather not do at all. These inputs were captured, defined and themed together across activities. They were then measured, prioritised, and needs- and capability-based segments around common problems were identified.

With opportunities revealed, only then did I help to devise new product-service concepts, focusing on the most important, frequent and poorly dissatisfied areas of need, capability and performance.

Also, I revealed needs on the activities performed by the community nurses to achieve their goal of supporting people with diabetes to manage their blood glucose levels. These activities included:

  • Determine patient lifestyle and treatment preferences

  • Initiate patient on an insulin plan

  • Evaluate adherence to an insulin plan

I uncovered, prioritised and segmented unmet needs and capabilities on these practitioner activities also. Both patient and practitioner unmet needs and capability segments were then themed and matched to each other to define a quantified health market opportunity consisting of different combinations of attractive market segments.


Through up-front pre-solution goal and opportunity definition, consisting of different needs and capability-based patient and nurse segments, my client was able to perform, amongst others, the following innovation tasks:

  • Compare patterns of unmet need, resources and capability for different patient segements

  • Measure and compare these patterns by patient lifestyle

  • Overlay health practitioner and pharmaceutical touch points onto patient activities and unmet needs and identify opportunities for practitioner education and support service innovation

  • Compare patterns of unmet need across different health care systems and markets

  • Create foundations for developing a patient-centric health ecosystem design strategy

  • Conduct a deep technological, capability and commercial assessment using the unmet needs of patients and practitioners as a guide to concept generation and feasibility assessment.