Sanofi Australia Innovation

How our innovation and design thinking techniques helped create new product and service solution ideas for a global healthcare company.


Client: Sanofi Australia

Engagement: Innovation, Design Thinking

Location: Sydney, Australia



In late 2015, Cognitive Ink ran a series of design thinking workshops with the Innovation Team from one of Australia and New Zealand’s largest pharmaceutical and consumer healthcare companies. 

The company held a large amount of raw and detailed patient experience data which had been collected from targeted questionnaires and research on diabetes patients. They wanted to generate ideas for new and innovative products and services to help these patients, however were unsure how to derive ideas from the data and how to assess their ideas for viability.

Cognitive Ink helped the team innovate ideas for new products and services, using our design thinking methodology SEED (Strategise – Enquire – Explain – Design). We guided the team to emphasise with the patient journeys, and then to brainstorm and prioritise ideas to meet the needs of both the patients and their support networks, as well as to achieve the objectives of the business.



Define the business objectives

The strategy step of the process kicked off the project, which involved defining with the business:
•    What are the key business objectives?
•    How are these measured?  

Business objectives included meeting patient needs and integration with other company offerings as well as the development of valuable new products and services. We used these business objectives to determine priority and viability of any solutions brainstormed (ie, would these achieve what the company set out to do?) 


Background research: Identify insights into the experience of a diabetes patient

Our starting point was a large amount of raw data in the form of questionnaire answers from diabetes patients and research articles in medical publications. 

To analyse this data we sourced quotes which represented each type of answer provided by patients, and used affinity mapping to identify key insights, such as barriers to good health (eg, financial struggles, time constraints for appointments, a lack of integrated health records, etc), how technology was used to manage the illness (eg, planning and tracking) and social constructs that assisted the patients emotionally (eg, virtual support groups). 

Visual summary posters were completed to show overarching themes with quotes taken from the data. These were used as a starting point for our hands-on innovation workshops with the business team.

Workshop: Who are we designing for?

Before looking at the patient journey, we helped guide the Team to identify a number of personas who would represent key patient groups. These included variations in age, education levels, family/marital status and motivation levels and would be used to gain different perspectives into the journey, with the understanding that this would be different for different patient types.


Workshop: Who are the other entities involved?

Using hands-on workshop techniques, we worked with the Innovation Team to identify other entities who the patients may interact with during their experience (eg, professional support groups, family members, healthcare organisations, etc). These would be used to trigger ideas when mapping out the patient journeys and later on to identify others who would be impacted by possible solutions.


Workshop: What is the experience of patients and their support networks?

The next step was to put the insights and personas together to map out patient journeys for each different patient type, from wellness through to life end. We examined the challenges they would face at each step with maintaining wellness on both a physical and psychological level, their priorities, who would help them, what would help them, and why. 

This included the journey not just for the patients, but also for others indirectly impacted by the experience (eg, families, friends and health professionals). We also identified how and where the company’s existing products and services linked into the journeys, to examine how these could be enhanced or integrated into possible new offerings.



Workshop: What are the key problems?

Using the insights, emotional and structural understandings gained in the enquiry phases, the team isolated all the key problems associated with each stage of the journey, within customer needs and in inherent challenges of the domain itself. The problems were clustered according to the phases of a healthcare lifecycle and prioritised. 


Workshop: How do we solve these problems?

Using the problems identified in the user journey as a focus, the Innovation Team ideated with a variety of design thinking games what an ideal patient journey should look like – What would the ideal experience be for a diabetes patient from wellness through to their last days? What would the ideal experience look like for their networks? 

Solutions were explored for their power to potentially transform the existing patient journey into the ideal experience. The team wrote down any ideas they had, not taking into account any technological or practical constraints. 

The result was several hundred new ideas for products and services. We then prioritised these by examining the impact of each possible solution for the patient and the company, against effort/time required to implement it.



Cognitive Ink assisted the Innovation team in identifying a number of key insights and patient experience challenges which had not previously been considered. The overall outcome of our process was the generation of a large number of ideas for new products and services, resulting from a newfound understanding and empathy for the journey of diabetes patients and their support networks. Prioritisation was done by balancing the impact for patients with the impact in achieving the company’s business objectives, effort and time involved to implement and the potential for integration with existing offerings.