‘As a relatively new digital platform we are in the process of constantly developing and optimising the platform. We started with the initial idea of enabling a conversation centred around a patient’s medical imaging and putting this capability in the hands of clinicians via a mobile app. All the rich features which built on these functions came from listening to our users’ needs.’Antoine Saillant, Head of Product
How would you describe your role as product manager?
I would say that there are two key functions to the role. Firstly, I act as a bridge between the users, the development team and the company’s senior leadership, ensuring that everybody’s priorities are aligned.
In practice that means several things: Presenting a product roadmap, making sure everybody is clear on where we invest our development budget, why this aligns with user needs and how it serves the market.
I make sure everybody is aware of what we’re doing, so effective communication is a key function of my work.
Secondly I oversee delivery – Having responsibility for the release of the product, ensuring it meets our high quality thresholds, working with the regulatory team to guarantee compliance, and continually improving key features. Week in, week out I make sure that the development is on time and re-adjusting priorities where necessary.
How has your previous professional experience informed your role at Bleepa?
I’ve been at Bleepa for over four years. Broadly speaking, I come from an academic background. I studied computer science and applied mathematics up to a Master’s degree at an engineering school in my native France. I concluded my studies by working in industry for a globally recognised medical devices company here in the UK. I ended up working at the group for four years, leaving in 2018. During my time there I went on to complete a PhD in clinical imaging.
The key benefit of that background and that training is that I know how to speak to Bleepa users and how to work with them to identify the things they say they want from the platform. I can then ‘translate’ these insights internally to implement new features, while also uncovering unmet needs and potential pain points for our users.
As Bleepa evolved from primarily functioning as a clinical imaging viewer, the implementation of the features that we see today required an intimate understanding of the necessary data. So my background in clinical imaging was also useful in that respect.
To what extent has Bleepa’s evolution been informed by direct feedback from the clinical teams that use the platform?
As a relatively new digital platform we are in the process of constantly developing and optimising the platform. We started with the initial idea of enabling a conversation centred around a patient’s medical imaging and putting this capability in the hands of clinicians via a mobile app. All the rich features which built on these functions came from listening to our users’ needs.
We understood that some doctors wanted to also have Bleepa on their computers, in order to get the benefits of using the platform with a bigger screen. We also saw the potential in the ability to capture high quality photos, and easily view lab reports. So, we developed Bleepa to be a multi-platform app that could provide the flexibility those medical professionals needed. A primary part of my job is to consistently listen to feedback from the users to see how we can continually optimise the product’s features and functionality.
What kinds of challenges do you need to overcome in your role?
There are two main challenges that come to mind. One of the biggest challenges a product manager faces is that when users give you feedback they can also give their solutions, how they want you to address their issue. Of course, the feedback is valid, the pain points can be real, but for a variety of reasons, these suggested solutions may not be the right fit.
So resolving these issues successfully means being able to rephrase these problems internally, craft the best solutions and feed these back, diplomatically of course. Suggesting alternatives that can solve the same issues while understanding the psychology involved in these kinds of exchanges. Immersing yourself in all of these issues, understanding human nature and finding the best solutions are classic pieces of problem solving that a product manager needs to be able to navigate successfully.
The second key challenge, particularly in healthcare, is the paramount need to consider the patient safety, information governance and regulatory implications of any change we may wish to make to the platform. While there are things we may wish to do, you always need to ask yourself whether it would be safe to implement such a change.
That adds an extra layer of complexity that, say, developers in other industries do not need to consider in the same way. Bleepa is a regulated medical device, so every change we make is analysed for risk. When our software is deployed in a hospital, you need to go through formal approval. Of course this is not solely my responsibility – I’m lucky to work alongside our regulatory team and our customer success team to make sure that all stakeholders are aligned when it comes to deploying and upgrading in hospitals and other clinical settings.
On a personal level, this all creates fantastic opportunities to be able to shape a digital product that addresses a real problem and meets the needs of healthcare professionals. It’s very rewarding, kind of like cracking a maths problem.
What is next for you and Bleepa?
After a lot of hard work and co-development with our customers since Bleepa’s inception we have reached a level of maturity in the functionality that it offers. But there’s always more that we can do to optimise the platform’s user experience, so that’s the current focus for myself and the team.
As the NHS is undoubtedly our main market, we’re always looking for practical ways to better integrate with existing systems and make it easier for our users. For example, utilising ‘single sign on’ with an NHS login rather than a Bleepa local log in helps facilitate user adoption and customer onboarding.
We’re also focused on providing more dashboard views and metric reports using the rich data that is already being delivered to clinicians using Bleepa.
So we have lots of opportunities and ambitions to continue expanding what we offer and the real-world problems we can help to solve.
Want to find out more about Bleepa?
Read the previous entries in our staff expertise series: