November 11th, 2015

Week 6 – Prototype #1 Getting Ready to Roll

By mary

IMG_51691-1024x768Week 6 for the MCOLi team (our shorthand for the online learning innovation program) was all about preparing to put real people through an actual product experience.

We have 4 weeks to test one of the ideas that emerged from our ideation phase. Week 6 was the second week of that 4-week sprint.  The idea we are testing is code-named "Cases," and it is a mobile video platform for sharing, discussing and learning from interesting medical cases.  

We had multiple activities going on in week 6, but for this post, we are going to focus in on our "MVP prep."

One of the best ways to test a product idea is to put customers through a close approximation of the real experience, and see what happens.  In order to do that for Cases, we had to accomplish a number of tasks:

*Recruit sponsors who were willing to both organize a "case discussion group" of 5 to 20 people, as well as record a few 1 to 2 minute video cases. Plus we wanted to get enough sponsors, and a diverse enough set of sponsors, that we could gather an interesting mix of data points.

* Build a live prototype version of our product concept in a matter of days

* Help our sponsors invite their group and measure how they actually used the product

Recruiting sponsors has gone well (it is great to be part of an organization where people are so willing to help each other). We have a diverse set of practice groups, roles, and levels of experience.  We have our initial cases (a side experiment proved that it is not too onerous for people to record a 1-2 minute video case on their mobile phones).


Screen-Shot-2015-10-26-at-2.15.19-PM-499x1024We also managed to hack together a workable prototype. A prototype is a proxy to a real product that helps us test the basic functions of the product when it is fully formed. Creating an MVP (minimum viable product) quickly requires a McGyver mindset:  "Let's see, we have a paper clip, an empty fire extinguisher, and an electric socket. That should be enough to make a working organ transplant storage receptacle!"

In our situation, we had a few core requirements:

1.  We wanted interactions to happen on mobile phones, since healthcare professionals do not work at a computer often (but we didn't think we had time to build a truly "native" smartphone application)

2.  We needed to be able to load short video cases made by Mayo Clinic physicians and NPPAs (but we didn't need our users to be able to load new cases)

3.  We needed people to be able to view cases posted for their discussion group (but we didn't need to build a robust security system, yet)

4.  We needed people to be able to take, and post, a short video of themselves answering something about the case (and we actually limited responses to video, not text, because we wanted to test if video discussion was a good, or dumb, idea)

Thankfully in this era of open-source software, there were a number of existing frameworks that we could cobble together to make a mobile-browser-based prototype that, while not as elegant as a well-engineered product, would at least get us close enough that we could answer some key questions.

  1. Would greater than 50% of invitees actually try out the product?
  2. Would > 30% of those who viewed a case then make a comment?
  3. Would > 40% of our participants find the experience educational and worthwhile?

We also hope to learn many, many other things:

  • Will people watch just one case, or will they be interested enough to watch more?  
  • Will the short bursts of asynchronous interaction work with people’s busy schedules?
  • How does group size, or practice group, or similarity vs diversity of group members affect interactions?  
  • If we are able to capture an interesting case discussion from Mayo Clinic participants, would that group be willing to let other healthcare organizations access their discussion (as watchers, not participants)? If so,  would other healthcare organizations find it interesting to view Mayo Clinic discussions?
  • Would they want access to Cases for their own discussions?

Our hope is that we have made a prototype that works well enough for our testers that they give it a shot. MVPs are complicated because we are hoping to build an experience for participants that feels valuable to them, while not over-engineering the experience and building feature that people do not find useful. All three of those letters matter.

In an ideal world, we would get around this by trying our MVP on one discussion group, and then roll it out to many.  However, our time frames do not really allow for that, so we decided to jump into the deep end of the pool with a number of teams in parallel and see how we fair. If we have made mistakes, we hope to make them quickly, and learn from them quickly as well.

We hope you are as curious to see the results as we are.

And if you are interested in trying the MVP and organizing a discussion group for some cases of your own, please let us know!

Tags: Experiments, Prototype, Testing, Weekly Updates

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