Developing a digital product is like starting a marathon with no finish line—intimidating unless you can tame it with the right approach or methodology.
This is exactly what Medscape’s Product teams did. By using the Continuous Discovery framework, they embrace the neverending aspect of their work. This not only aids them in fostering a customer-centric and data-driven culture but, with the right tools, also enables them to maintain regular contact with everyday users.
Survicate is one such tool. Jump into the story of how Survicate contributes to creating better digital products with the Medscape Network.
What is Medscape
The Medscape Network includes many different brands targeting healthcare professionals: Medscape, MDEdge, Univadis, Jim.fr, Coliquio, El Médico Interactivo, and others. It is the leading online global destination for physicians and healthcare professionals. It offers the latest medical news and expert insights, essential point-of-care drug and disease information, as well as relevant educational materials to cater to the needs of medical professionals.
The Medscape Network is part of the Health Division of Internet Brands, an online media and technology company that serves businesses and consumers in four major categories: Automotive, Health, Legal, and Home/Travel.
Sandrine Veillet, VP of Global Product for the Medscape Network, has been using Survicate since 2017, when she managed Product teams at AptusHealth, one of the companies acquired by Internet Brands in 2019.
Survicate proved to be a reliable research tool to collect contextual feedback quickly. That’s why, after the acquisition, she implemented it across Medscape Network’s brands.
Using Continuous Discovery in product development
Medscape Network’s Product teams use the Continuous Discovery framework in their work, operating under the fundamental assumption that digital products are ever-evolving and there’s always space for iteration and improvement. Moreover, “good product discovery includes the customer throughout the decision-making process.” [source]
This argument particularly resonated with Sandrine, who acknowledges that
“the weekly touch points with physicians and customers to uncover opportunities, but also areas of friction, unmet needs, and desires help us achieve our product and business outcomes. And yes, another key aspect is ensuring that the opportunities we prioritize are moving the needle from a business perspective.”
So, how does Survicate fit into the Continuous Discovery framework across the Medscape Network?
Contextual surveys to connect with users
Survicate plays a vital role in providing a steady flow of interviewees to the process based on weekly user interviews.
“We use Survicate as a tool that enters into the discovery methodology to recruit users for interviews. There’s usually one question popping up on the site or the app asking if a user would be okay to spend 30 minutes with the Product Manager. It gives us a continuous flow of users who book slots with us. And as the survey has just one question, it's not too disruptive to the experience. This works really great.”
Sandrine Veillet, VP of Global Product at Medscape
Sandrine’s mindful of the user experience online; that’s why, even if her teams recruit for a standard survey, it’s still through this one-question mini pop-up survey.
“Sometimes we release a standard survey with more questions to complement some validation process. We can still recruit users through a Survicate pop-up to answer that survey. In addition, we also send the link to the survey by email,” she adds.
Validating early hypotheses with Survicate surveys
After prioritizing opportunities, the teams develop and then map out solutions. This allows them to identify risky assumptions that are fundamental to the solution's success but have little supporting evidence.
There are various methodologies to validate hypotheses, depending on their type. If the teams need to see how users engage with a particular part of the user journey, they can use unmoderated prototype testing. On other occasions, they may choose interviews. “We can also validate through Survicate like with one- or two-question surveys,” Sandrine adds.
No matter their choice, the challenge in the discovery process is to learn fast.
That’s why Sandrine’s Product teams don’t choose to validate the end-to-end solutions—it takes a lot of time to implement and get the results. They only focus on the risky elements.
“Small research activities allow us to get answers quickly,”
Ultimately, the critical idea behind continuous discovery is gathering all those learnings before building anything.
How Survicate helps in the Continuous Discovery process at Medscape Network
Testing risky assumptions
Medscape.com, is a vast knowledge source for healthcare professionals, offering—among other content—condition monographs. It provides all the necessary information regarding diagnosis, indicated treatment, medical guidelines, and recommendations from medical societies for over 7,000 different health conditions.
While it’s a top-rated resource among U.S. physicians, it is not regarded the same way in non-English speaking countries due to language barriers. On top of that, some parts of the monographs are region-specific, using local drug names and other US-specific elements.
One of the tasks the Product teams had was to discover the best way of sharing this structured content in other languages.
Given the content's nature, Sandrine and her team knew it could benefit a broader audience than just the US. The big question was how to proceed with over 7,000 articles, averaging 6,000 words each.
They narrowed down the hypotheses to the following options:
- Create the content from scratch,
- Translate without adding a localization layer (drug names, local recommendations, etc.),
- Translate and add a localization layer.
It all boiled down to the resources and time needed for each option to provide the best solution, even though the last assumption convinced the Product team the most. They decided to test it with an unmoderated Survicate survey, as validating it was vital to move forward with the whole project.
“We translated one of those condition monographs and recruited users for a survey to understand if the content could stay as it was—a pure translation, but with the right disclaimers.”
The disclaimers informed that the monograph was a non-localized translation, initially created for the US audience, so there could be nuances in guidelines and recommendations. Additionally, the drug names could be different.
Sandrine and her team were curious if the translation alone could attract readers. They set up a survey that first asked the respondents to read the content and the disclaimer. Before it moved to test the initial assumptions, the respondents had to show they read the whole content carefully. Only then did the survey logic allow the follow-up questions to appear.
The results surpassed the expectations.
“Over 90% of the respondents answered that they were likely or very likely to use it, and 90% would use it at least once a month, most of them answered that they would use it at least weekly.”
It turned out that Medscape’s audience would see value in just the basic translation. The survey results disproved the initial assumptions and saved Medscape time and resources. This also helped to move the project forward quickly, with a more advanced localization layer moving to another project step.
Asking vital questions with website surveys
Another interesting example is how Sandrine’s team uses Survicate surveys to validate their hypotheses.
One of the most popular features of Medscape is its drug information repository. It’s a comprehensive knowledge base for clinicians in their practice, offering all the essential information they may need while attending to a patient, such as interactions with other drugs, potential side effects, or indicated dosages. The repository is a convenient point of reference for clinicians when they’re preparing to meet a patient or conduct a medical interview.
Clinicians can access it in two main ways—looking for a specific drug in a browser or via the Medscape mobile app. After carefully analyzing traffic, Sandrine’s Product teams uncovered some findings they decided to investigate further.
Both the website and the mobile app had good traffic. However, Medscape.com had many one-time visits compared to the app, where users return regularly. It is understandable, considering how convenient it is —in the end, they have the app installed on their phones.
But why weren’t the website users converting to the mobile app? This was a question the Product team aimed to address.
“We saw the mobile app had a strong stickiness driver, and our users loved it. However, the proportion of users who use the app, compared to the web users, is far smaller,”
To get first-hand information, the Product team launched a website survey asking users who came to the drug monographs section the following question: “Why are you not using the Medscape app?”
“The majority told us that they didn't know about the app. We found out that there was a huge awareness gap, which was really eye-opening in terms of where we should put efforts to drive more app usage. We don't necessarily need to build a new feature. The biggest opportunity is in driving the awareness.”
It was not only an “aha moment” for the Product team but also, if not primarily, for the Marketing teams. It revealed that there was a significant promotion deficit for the Medscape app.
As a result, the Product teams started working with the Marketing team to drive more awareness and build new strategies to engage users with the app. It also helped them identify an opportunity to drive the app discoverability and download when users visit the website.
“So we went in two directions. We asked ourselves, what additional marketing promotion can we do with the app when users visit our website? And when they come to the website to look up a drug, how can we entice them to discover and download the app?”
Fostering customer centricity with Continuous Discovery and Survicate
Implementing the Continuous Discovery framework brought a lot of value to the whole Medscape Network. On one hand, it ensures the Product Managers always focus on solving problems that align with the company's strategic objectives. On the other—it puts the customer at the center of the product development process. It encourages the product manager to continuously gather feedback, conduct user research, and validate assumptions, ensuring that the product is aligned with customer needs and preferences.
Consequently, it involves gathering and analyzing data from various sources. This data-driven approach enables Product Managers to make informed decisions based on real evidence rather than relying solely on intuition or assumptions. Moreover, they validate their hypotheses and assumptions before committing significant resources to something that can be missing the mark.
Survicate plays a vital role in the continuous discovery process—it helps gather valuable feedback effortlessly. Survicate’s contextual surveys capture users when they’re engaged with a specific product element to ask them a pinpoint question or invite them to an interview.