JournalMay 13, 2021

Announcing our SaMD Playbook: How we build digital health products

An astronaut sits in a thinking position, reading a book

Way back in 2014, we published the first version of Hanno’s Playbook. It was our way of documenting Hanno’s operating model, which at the time was considered a quite unconventional way of working.

To our surprise, it generated quite the splash and was widely read, shared and referenced, both within the design community and elsewhere. While we weren’t the “inventors” of the Playbooks concept (we were heavily inspired by the Thoughtbot Playbook, amongst others), it remains one of the elements of Hanno’s legacy that we're most proud of.

The challenge came when we made the decision back in 2017 to become digital health specialists rather than design generalists. We increasingly felt that the content in the Playbooks was becoming less accurate (due to the changes in our operating model); less relevant to those outside of the team; and also harder to openly share and maintain, due to us operating in a more regulated space.

At the end of last year, we decided to remove the Playbooks content from the Hanno website and preserve it as a snapshot in time in a GitHub repository. That was a useful short-term fix, but it felt a little suboptimal to have a whole series of internal Confluence spaces packed full of process documentation, notes and learnings, yet have nothing visible to those outside of the team.

Today, we’re publishing our new SaMD Playbook for the first time as an attempt to find a middle ground.

We’ve written it primarily for ourselves, to organise our thoughts and serve as a flag in the ground for how we want to work as a team. But we’re publishing it openly, so that others can observe how we design and build software as a medical device (SaMD). While we’ve put a lot of time and thought into its contents, we see this as a working draft rather than a final, fixed version. Our intention is to update it over time as our process and thinking evolves and we spot opportunities to iterate, improve and optimise.

We hope it will play a small role in our industry’s wider efforts to meet the growing expectations and demands for digital health services. If you think you've spotted gaps in our thinking, we'd (genuinely) love to hear your feedback.

Read the Hanno SaMD Playbook here.

Posted by
Jon Lay

Jon is a Partner at Hanno. He wears many hats, but his primary focus is on leading our engineering and technical operations.