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Flevy Management Insights Case Study
Service Design Strategy for a Digital Health Startup in Telemedicine


Fortune 500 companies typically bring on global consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, and Accenture, or boutique consulting firms specializing in Service Design to thoroughly analyze their unique business challenges and competitive situations. These firms provide strategic recommendations based on consulting frameworks, subject matter expertise, benchmark data, KPIs, best practices, and other tools developed from past client work. We followed this management consulting approach for this case study.

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Consider this scenario: A digital health startup operating in the telemedicine niche is confronted with the challenge of optimizing its service design to enhance patient engagement and streamline care delivery.

Facing a 20% drop in user engagement and a 15% increase in operational costs, the startup is battling both internal inefficiencies and external pressures from emerging competitors and evolving healthcare regulations. The primary strategic objective of the organization is to reimagine its service design for improved patient experience and operational efficiency, aiming for a 30% increase in patient engagement and a 20% reduction in costs.



This digital health startup, despite its innovative approach to telemedicine, is experiencing growing pains attributed to its service design not fully meeting patient expectations and operational inefficiencies. The pressing need for a redesigned service strategy is evident, considering the competitive landscape and internal challenges that threaten its position in the market.

Environmental Assessment

The telemedicine industry is witnessing exponential growth, driven by technological advancements and a shift in patient preferences towards virtual healthcare services.

Understanding the competitive dynamics requires analyzing the primary forces shaping the industry:

  • Internal Rivalry: High, as numerous players, from established healthcare providers to new tech startups, vie for market share.
  • Supplier Power: Moderate, with technology providers being crucial but the availability of multiple platforms giving some negotiation leverage.
  • Buyer Power: High, patients and healthcare providers demand more customized and efficient service delivery models.
  • Threat of New Entrants: High, due to the low initial capital requirement and the increasing demand for telemedicine services.
  • Threat of Substitutes: Moderate, traditional in-person healthcare services remain necessary but are increasingly supplemented by telemedicine solutions.

Emerging trends include a significant shift towards AI and machine learning for diagnostics and patient management, creating both opportunities and risks:

  • Incorporation of AI for personalized care: Presents the opportunity to enhance patient engagement but requires substantial investment in technology.
  • Regulatory changes in telehealth: Offers the chance to expand services but comes with the risk of compliance costs.

A PESTLE analysis reveals that technological and legal factors are particularly influential, with ongoing innovations and changing healthcare regulations shaping strategic decisions.

Learn more about Machine Learning PEST Environmental Assessment

For a deeper analysis, take a look at these Environmental Assessment best practices:

Market Entry Strategy Toolkit (109-slide PowerPoint deck)
Industry Analysis and Competitive Advantage Toolkit (99-slide PowerPoint deck)
Strategic Foresight and Uncertainty (51-slide PowerPoint deck)
Consolidation-Endgame Curve Framework (29-slide PowerPoint deck)
Porter's Five Forces (26-slide PowerPoint deck)
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Internal Assessment

The organization boasts a strong technological foundation and a committed team but struggles with service design inefficiencies and scalability issues.

The MOST Analysis indicates a mismatch between the organization's mission and its operational strategies, particularly in service delivery and customer engagement methods. Additionally, its objectives of expanding market share are hindered by current technological and process limitations.

The Value Chain Analysis highlights strengths in technology development but weaknesses in service operations and customer service. Streamlining these areas could significantly enhance overall value delivery.

The Gap Analysis underscores the need to bridge the current service design with the evolving expectations of telemedicine patients—focusing on personalization, ease of use, and integration with other healthcare services.

Learn more about Customer Service Service Design Value Chain Analysis

Strategic Initiatives

  • Revamp Service Design for Enhanced Patient Experience: Redesigning the service blueprint to offer a more personalized and seamless patient journey, with the goal of increasing patient engagement and satisfaction. The initiative aims to leverage technology to create value through a better patient experience, which is expected to drive loyalty and positive word-of-mouth. This will require investments in user experience research, technology development, and staff training.
  • Implementation of Advanced Data Analytics: Utilizing big data and AI to improve patient care and operational efficiency. The strategic goal is to enhance decision-making and personalize care plans, creating value by reducing operational costs and improving patient outcomes. Investment in AI technology and data analytics skills will be necessary.
  • Strengthen Regulatory Compliance Framework: Adapting to rapidly changing healthcare regulations to mitigate risks and seize opportunities for expansion. This initiative focuses on ensuring that service design and delivery are compliant with current and anticipated regulations, safeguarding the organization against legal risks and fines. Resources needed include legal expertise and compliance software.

Learn more about Big Data User Experience Data Analytics

Service Design Implementation KPIs

KPIS are crucial throughout the implementation process. They provide quantifiable checkpoints to validate the alignment of operational activities with our strategic goals, ensuring that execution is not just activity-driven, but results-oriented. Further, these KPIs act as early indicators of progress or deviation, enabling agile decision-making and course correction if needed.


If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.
     – Lord Kelvin

  • Patient Engagement Rate: Measures the effectiveness of the new service design in meeting patient expectations.
  • Operational Cost Reduction: A decrease in costs will indicate improved efficiency due to streamlined service delivery and operations.
  • Compliance Adherence Score: Ensuring all services meet regulatory standards, reflecting the company's commitment to legal and ethical business practices.

These KPIs offer insights into the success of the strategic initiatives in enhancing patient experience, operational efficiency, and regulatory compliance, guiding further adjustments to strategy and implementation.

For more KPIs, take a look at the Flevy KPI Library, one of the most comprehensive databases of KPIs available. Having a centralized library of KPIs saves you significant time and effort in researching and developing metrics, allowing you to focus more on analysis, implementation of strategies, and other more value-added activities.

Learn more about Flevy KPI Library KPI Management Performance Management Balanced Scorecard

Stakeholder Management

Successful implementation of the strategic initiatives relies on the active involvement and support of both internal and external stakeholders, including technology partners, healthcare professionals, and regulatory bodies.

  • Technology Partners: Crucial for providing the platforms and tools needed for service design enhancement and data analytics.
  • Healthcare Professionals: Their feedback and adoption are vital for the successful implementation of the new service design.
  • Regulatory Bodies: Ensuring compliance with healthcare regulations is essential for operational legitimacy.
  • Patients: The primary beneficiaries of the improved service design, whose satisfaction and engagement are critical for the organization's success.
  • Internal Teams: From R&D to customer service, all have roles in implementing and supporting the new strategic initiatives.
Stakeholder GroupsRACI
Technology Partners
Healthcare Professionals
Regulatory Bodies
Patients
Internal Teams

We've only identified the primary stakeholder groups above. There are also participants and groups involved for various activities in each of the strategic initiatives.

Learn more about Stakeholder Management Change Management Focus Interviewing Workshops Supplier Management

Service Design Best Practices

To improve the effectiveness of implementation, we can leverage best practice documents in Service Design. These resources below were developed by management consulting firms and Service Design subject matter experts.

Service Design Deliverables

These are a selection of deliverables across all the strategic initiatives.

  • Service Design Blueprint (PPT)
  • Data Analytics Implementation Plan (PPT)
  • Regulatory Compliance Framework (PPT)
  • Strategic Initiative Progress Report (PPT)

Explore more Service Design deliverables

Revamp Service Design for Enhanced Patient Experience

The strategic initiative to revamp service design for enhanced patient experience was supported by the application of the Kano Model and the Customer Journey Mapping framework. The Kano Model, developed by Noriaki Kano in the 1980s, is a theory of product development and customer satisfaction which distinguishes between essential and differentiating features of a product or service. It was instrumental in identifying features that could significantly enhance patient satisfaction in the telemedicine service. Following this identification, the team proceeded with the implementation:

  • Classified telemedicine service features into Kano categories (Must-be, One-dimensional, Attractive, Indifferent, and Reverse) through patient surveys and feedback.
  • Analyzed patient responses to identify "Attractive" features that were not currently offered but could significantly enhance patient experience and engagement.
  • Prioritized the development of identified Attractive features while ensuring Must-be features were adequately maintained.

Simultaneously, Customer Journey Mapping was employed to visualize the patient’s experience through all the touchpoints with the telemedicine service. This framework helped in understanding the patient's emotional journey and identifying critical pain points and moments of truth that significantly impact patient satisfaction. The team executed the following steps:

  • Mapped out the current state of the patient journey from initial contact through post-care follow-up, including all physical, digital, and human interaction points.
  • Identified key pain points and bottlenecks in the journey through patient interviews and data analysis.
  • Redesigned the service touchpoints to eliminate identified pain points and introduced new features aimed at enhancing the overall patient experience.

The combined application of the Kano Model and Customer Journey Mapping led to significant improvements in patient experience and engagement. The introduction of identified Attractive features and the redesign of the service touchpoints to address critical pain points resulted in a 30% increase in patient engagement rates. Furthermore, the clear identification and prioritization of service elements based on patient satisfaction contributed to more targeted and efficient service design efforts.

Learn more about Customer Satisfaction Customer Journey Data Analysis

Implementation of Advanced Data Analytics

For the strategic initiative focused on the implementation of advanced data analytics, the organization applied the Resource-Based View (RBV) framework. The RBV, which emphasizes the strategic value of resources and capabilities in gaining competitive advantage, was pivotal in identifying the internal capabilities needed to leverage big data and AI effectively. After recognizing these capabilities, the organization embarked on the following process:

  • Conducted an internal audit to identify existing technological resources and capabilities related to data analytics and AI.
  • Invested in training and development programs to enhance staff competencies in data analysis, machine learning, and AI application in healthcare.
  • Developed strategic partnerships with technology providers to access advanced analytics tools and platforms not available in-house.

The successful implementation of the RBV framework allowed the organization to significantly enhance its internal capabilities in data analytics and AI, leading to more personalized patient care plans and improved operational efficiency. The strategic partnerships formed as part of this initiative provided access to cutting-edge analytics tools, further strengthening the organization's competitive position in the telemedicine industry.

Learn more about Competitive Advantage

Strengthen Regulatory Compliance Framework

In addressing the strategic initiative to strengthen the regulatory compliance framework, the organization utilized the Scenario Planning framework. Scenario Planning, which involves developing detailed narratives about the future to anticipate and prepare for potential challenges, was particularly relevant in navigating the complex and evolving healthcare regulatory environment. The organization followed these steps in its application:

  • Identified key regulatory trends and uncertainties in the healthcare and telemedicine sectors through expert consultations and industry analysis.
  • Developed multiple scenarios representing different future regulatory landscapes, ranging from minimal changes to significant overhauls in telemedicine regulations.
  • Formulated strategic responses for each scenario, focusing on flexibility and adaptability in service design and delivery to ensure compliance across potential futures.

The use of Scenario Planning enabled the organization to proactively address regulatory challenges, ensuring its services remained compliant across various potential future environments. This strategic foresight not only mitigated the risk of non-compliance and associated penalties but also positioned the organization as a leader in regulatory adaptation within the telemedicine industry.

Learn more about Scenario Planning Industry Analysis Strategic Foresight

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Key Findings and Results

Here is a summary of the key results of this case study:

  • Increased patient engagement rates by 30% following the revamp of service design, meeting the primary strategic objective.
  • Operational costs were reduced by 20%, achieving the targeted reduction through streamlined service delivery and operations.
  • Introduced advanced data analytics, leading to more personalized patient care plans and a significant improvement in operational efficiency.
  • Strengthened the regulatory compliance framework, ensuring adaptability to the evolving healthcare regulatory environment.
  • Formed strategic partnerships with technology providers, enhancing the organization's capabilities in data analytics and AI.
  • Identified and prioritized service elements based on patient satisfaction, contributing to more targeted and efficient service design efforts.

The strategic initiatives undertaken by the digital health startup have led to significant improvements in patient engagement and operational efficiency, directly addressing the challenges of declining user engagement and rising operational costs. The 30% increase in patient engagement rates and the 20% reduction in operational costs are particularly noteworthy achievements that underscore the success of the revamped service design and the implementation of advanced data analytics. The strategic focus on regulatory compliance has also positioned the organization favorably in a complex regulatory environment. However, the report does not detail the specific impact of these initiatives on market share expansion and competitive positioning, areas that were initially identified as challenges. While the results are commendable, a more nuanced analysis of market dynamics and the startup's position relative to competitors would provide a fuller picture of the strategic initiative's success. Additionally, exploring alternative strategies, such as partnerships with healthcare providers or further diversification of service offerings, could potentially enhance patient engagement and operational efficiency beyond the current achievements.

Based on the analysis, the recommended next steps should include a deeper market analysis to understand the impact of the strategic initiatives on the startup's competitive positioning and market share. Further investment in technology, particularly in areas that support scalability and integration with other healthcare services, could amplify the benefits realized from the current initiatives. Additionally, exploring new service models or partnerships with traditional healthcare providers could open up avenues for growth and further increase patient engagement. Continuous monitoring and adaptation of the regulatory compliance framework in response to evolving regulations will be crucial to mitigate risks and seize opportunities for expansion.

Source: Service Design Strategy for a Digital Health Startup in Telemedicine, Flevy Management Insights, 2024

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