Product Clinic #1: Turning boring technology into exciting products

March 24, 2022


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At Lindus Health we believe that product development and technology are the key to make clinical trials more effective for patients, clinical staff and sponsors. We have set out to create a suite of tools that manage clinical trials end to end, all tied together in one product called Citrus.

In this Product Clinic series we let you behind the scenes of our product development efforts. In this first post of the series I want to talk about just one guiding principle that allows us to make rapid progress while maintaining high quality standards: Favor boring technology.

Technology is a means to an end. Our goal is not to use technology. Our goal is to support our customers in recruiting participants faster and in managing trials more effectively. We favor boring technology because it ensures we focus on delivering real value to customers rather than on technology for its own sake.

Some people have been put off by the blunt word “boring” in this principle. Fair enough, it’s deliberately inflammatory phrasing. It’s supposed to make you stop and think. It sparks conversation. We interpret it mainly to mean: we choose technology that is well-established, that has a large community supporting it, that has an abundance of documentation and that has well-understood performance characteristics.

Let me elaborate on a couple of desirable outcomes of applying this principle. First of all, being conservative results in secure and robust systems. We build products for clinical trials where people’s health is on the line. Where personal data or trial data is involved we don’t experiment. Other aspects of running a trial don’t involve sensitive data, this is where we focus on more innovative and experimental solutions. As an example, during the design of a clinical trial we automatically evaluate the feasibility of a trial protocol backed by AI and machine learning models.

Another consequence is that we avoid distractions that can be created by cutting edge or niche technology. Typical issues are lack of established best practices, disproportionate maintenance overhead, difficulty of hiring people with expertise, and a steep learning curve for new people joining our product team. These distractions eat up time which would only be pushed onto customers as cost.

If you’re technically inclined and curious about our specific choices, two examples are Django for backends and React for web apps. Both of these are mature, widely used frameworks backed by large ecosystems that make them appropriately boring.

On a final note, I want to stress that boring technology doesn’t mean boring products. It’s rather the opposite: Going down a well-trodden path with established best practices leaves us with more time to perfect the user experience for our customers who just need results and faster clinical trials. We develop products rather than just deploy technology.

Nik Haldimann - CTO - Lindus Health

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