Enabling Your Care Model - Our Product Strategy

Canvas’s Product Strategy combines our market aims towards creating care team / developer collaboration with customer & stakeholder input. 

Publication Date
5/24/2022
Mel van Londen

Mel van Londen

Products have a fractal-like complexity. Not only is there a continual firehose of intriguing yet complex needs and ideas, each will reveal additional complex idea subsets when investigated in depth. These ideas can continually evolve themselves, fit together in different ways, or even be less intriguing upon a second pass.

With pursuing these ideas come the all-too-familiar constraints - unforeseen blockers, not enough resourcing, trade-offs to make against competing deadlines, etc. 

At Canvas, we’ve tasked ourselves with building the digital infrastructure for care delivery. Complex task: meet complex parameters. As complexity multiplies on itself, it becomes increasingly imperative to harness and control it. 

Our product strategy is our harness. We cull this complexity fractal through combining our conviction in our market position and the inputs of our valuable stakeholders, so that we can build and iterate upon a resonant, powerful product with velocity and clarity. 

Our Market Position

As mentioned above, in “building the digital infrastructure for care delivery” lies complexity. The future of healthcare is rife with a wide variety of care models, each with permutations on conditions, patients, care providers, reimbursement methods… the list can go on. Building a product with feature sets that are overfit for specific models is unscalable, full stop. We, nor any other team, will be able to iterate fast enough to perfectly accommodate each permutation of care model. 

More importantly, such an approach is prescriptive. Inevitably, care organizations will always possess a more intimate understanding of their own patients, their own problems, their own care model strategy, than we do. For us to provide prescriptive feature sets is for us to be limiting and boundary-setting for healthcare innovators. 

To be empowering as opposed to limiting, our position is to be an enablement platform for care team - developer collaboration. Explicitly, this means:

  • Empowering developers with effective tools
  • Empowering developers and care teams to collaborate
  • Empowering care teams to work effectively at scale

Developers

We're builders ourselves. We know firsthand the poor development experiences abound in healthcare, and so build with first principles engineering to take burdens on to our backs. 

Here, we have three principles guiding our developer enablement.

  • We build for ergonomics. We build in convenience for newcomers to understand and use our tools quickly, discoverability for intermediate users to learn the extents of our tooling, and flexibility for experienced developers to build the full breadth of solutions. 
  • We build for performance. We set and manage expectations of excellence for our products, and we maintain them to perform as expected.
  • We build for observability. We give you the full picture of your Canvas instance, with metrics for performance, resource usage, and feature usage, along with continual visibility into our improvements. We give you the feedback loops you need to improve your own instance.

We strive for this enablement because we recognize its cascading effect on the dimensions that follow. 

Care Team - Developer Collaboration

Enabling this form of collaboration requires our product to be extensible. As care organizations know their own problem sets and care model the best, they will also know best which products to build to best serve their care model. Understanding this, we agonize to find ways to unlock your developers in creating perfectly fitted experiences for your care teams. 

We accomplish this with a platform approach. We build tools and building blocks for your developers to then additionally configure. Specifically, we focus on: 

  • A server-side Workflow SDK that allows your developers to extend beyond what comes out-of-the-box to deploy novel automations, workflows, and decision support, in your Canvas instance, directly to your care team 
  • Open FHIR APIs that enable connection and efficient construction of differentiated patient experiences
  • A library of Embeds for commodity patient-facing experiences that your developers can take off-the-shelf and extend

Through these elements, your care model can be robustly defined and continuously improved in code.

Care Teams

At Canvas, we serve care organizations in their entirety. The Canvas EMR was originally purpose built to provide care teams with a beautiful experience, and this remains true. Yet, modern care organizations’ needs are inclusive of, but not exclusive to, the care team experience. 

With the acceleration of trends towards virtual-first, tech-enabled healthcare, care organizations now strive for achieving larger scales and deeper depths, with more urgency than ever before. With this comes, yet again, complexity. In seeking scale, one may need to accommodate patient populations spread across the country and navigate geographical regulatory differences. In seeking depth, companies might thoughtfully plan and manage (often through care teams) the care of each individual patient, each of whom require deeper engagement through numerous touch points and potential interventions, each with their own unique data set and diagnostic needs.

For us, serving these organizations means ingesting their complexity then identifying the right abstractions to build. This includes:

  • Building for depth of patient care with patient programs and asynchronous care team collaboration
  • Building to meet organizations where they are in terms of their own expectations for care delivery
  • Building for the structure of scaled, complex organizations with robust permissioning, reporting, and other core operational needs
  • Building to support billing across existing and novel forms of reimbursement

These abstractions serve to meet and exceed your needs for the EMR that powers your healthcare organization.

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Key Stakeholders

To maintain the spirit of empowerment over limitation for our users, we keep our ears to the ground. We seek to be as transparent as possible about our roadmap, and desire open collaboration and contributions from our customers, our prospects, and the broader healthcare community on how we can be better from their lens. These contributions come in many forms. 

We build in the open through our Product Collaboration Portal. Here, you’ll find details about recent releases, what we’re currently working on, and what’s next in priority. You’ll also find idea submissions from customers and members of the healthcare community (like yourself!). You can read in depth about how your contributions inform our process here

Of course, the strategic value of current and potential partners plays a critical role in our roadmap as well. We have a tight feedback loop with our sales team and customers requiring unique product support to ensure that all voices are thoughtfully heard and incorporated as we build. 

Lastly, we’re deeply considerate to our internal team members. It’s inevitable that, as we continue to grow and scale, we outgrow established processes and the surrounding infrastructure that supports them. Assisting our colleagues so that they can better connect with and assist our customers is something we take pride in.

How We Prioritize Product Decisions

Canvas started as an EMR. We strive to not just meet the table stakes but exceed your expectations for EMR functionality. 

As demands arise, competing priorities across the above dimensions will surface. Do we build Feature X for care team members, or Feature Y for developers? Here, too, we’ve established principles to guide our decisions.

Effectively, we optimize for products of convergence. As product requests materialize, we draw a line between those needed (in some form) across a variety of customers and the market, and those specific to particular care / operating models. For the former, we’ll seek to build into our care team UI to continue to augment our best-in-class EMR. For the latter, rather than taking the prescriptive approach, we’ll seek to identify an abstraction layer upstream and build there - one that enables customer construction of the original request AND future tangential use cases.

Throughout, we find it imperative to continually optimize for the developer experience and system extensibility. If we build a component first into the care team UI, we will deeply consider its refactoring for extensibility, and future-proof for that refactoring where possible. 

Third Party Integrations

We also draw a line for product domains we focus on versus where we are happy to partner with best-of-breed organizations. In the spirit of “buying to build faster”, we recognize that third parties can have an offering that allows us to markedly increase our core product value. 

There’s three classes of partnerships we look towards:

  • Healthcare Networks: Many domains in healthcare possess an enormous amount of touch points and/or integration - prescription networks, patient data aggregation, lab ordering, etc. For us to take on the burden of aggregating these networks, especially when other organizations have built such infrastructure, is redundant.
  • Compliance: In healthcare’s heavily regulated and scrutinized environment, we must build our product to be secure and compliant, and maintain it as such. To accelerate bringing our services to market, we stand on the shoulders of compliance platforms.
  • Beyond Core Competency: There exist business-critical functions that we need to provide to customers that also exist outside of our core value prop and competencies. These range from industry agnostic (such as payment processing, communications, video conferencing) to valuable healthcare services (ex. patient-facing content).

Your Care Model's Backbone

The sum of the above, to us at least, feels greater than its parts. Each component on their own speaks to a mountain of value to be created, problems to be solved. At their convergence lies our path forward towards building care delivery’s core infrastructure - our product strategy.

It’s our way to harness the complexity fractal as we mentioned above, but most importantly, we’re confident it’s how we continue laying the bedrock for you to fulfill your care modeling vision and dramatically impact patient lives.

Let’s build, together.

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