When less is more
GE Healthcare was seeing $200 ECG's in China and India and they knew where the market was headed. To continue to lead, GE needed new ways to reduce cost, add value and simplify. With pressure in device markets, what would happen to accessories?
“Where mobility is less important, the symbolic value of carts increases.”
GE came to Modo for fresh thinking about the experience of using an ECG cart. GE asked us to find new and better ways to deliver device mobility. We built a research baseline. We constructed an image board with every solution we could find. From highly engineered, German carts to ECGs on bamboo stands, we documented everything.
We conducted field research in China, North America and Europe. We visited hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices. We chatted with doctors, nurses, transport orderlies and biomedical technicians. We took pictures and kept notes. We searched for patterns.
We discovered that people see carts as signifiers. Carts are especially important in hospitals where mobility and visibility are high. Hospital-grade technology is always offered with a cart. Mobility means less in a doctor's office. What surprised us was the effect of workplace culture. In low mobility settings like clinics, we expected the value of carts to go down. We discovered something unexpected. Where mobility is less important, the symbolic value of carts increases. Because carts are associated with hospitals, they are seen as signifiers of hospital-grade quality.
We brought two solutions to market. We focused on essential features in value-driven markets and we left options behind. We used smaller casters and we sourced them locally. We kept storage to a minimum and we took graphics off the packaging. For high-mobility, industrialized markets, we increased storage and added local customization. We stepped up caster size and quality. We added back the packaging graphics.
We used our research to create a global platform for a family of localized products. We leveraged global standards and embraced local differences. We asked our research team what they learned. Their response?
"Put culture before cost and then focus on cost."