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How Design Thinking can improve patients' experiences in Healthcare sector

Design Thinking can improve patients’ experiences in Healthcare sector

Patients sometimes miss or reschedule medical appointments due to various issues. We can use design thinking to find out the causes and to solve the problems so that the patients can attend their appointments smoothly.

In a recent study we see that every year almost 3.6 million [1] people miss or halt medical appointments due to issues like lack of useful transportation, poor assistance facilities during movement from home to hospitals, coordinating the logistics, travel long distances due to the enormous size of the hospital facility and various hurdles of the journey between the home and the doctor’s chamber. When a medical appointment is missed, it creates issues like difficulties in rescheduling, availability of medical staffs during the time of the new appointment.

A number of studies have been carried out widely, but the proper solution is yet to be found in most of the cases. One of the most effective ways to find out the solution is design thinking [2]. It is a human-centered problem-solving approach that focuses on empathy, ideation, rapid prototyping and iterative testing to address complex situations. In this approach design thinking professionals tries to put their feet into patients shoes and to understand their problems in their own way to experience the situation. Although design thinking is used to develop new products [3] and improve design of the facilities it is not used much to look into challenges faced by the patient in the time of visiting for appointments.

To design this patient centered experience hospital administration have to initiate the process to ask the patient about the problems, understand them, research about them and then try to solve the problems in a empathetic, effective, iterative human centered way. To do this successfully the hospitals can assign a team of experts in the process, their tasks would be to conduct surveys, focus group discussions, experience patients’ problems, analyze the root cause of the problem and then find out an useful solution with empathy. After this the team will try to find out possible solutions and begin rapid prototyping [4] to test the solutions. The prototype depends on the type of proposed solution. This prototype is tested by the related stakeholders and proper, sensitive, useful data is collected. The prototype is modified according to the feedback gathered.

There are already a few hospitals following design thinking process to create a better experience for patients. Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit academic medical center based in Rochester, Minnesota, used design thinking to redefine pregnancy care [5]. They wanted to meet the expectations and needs of expectant mothers, who put a greater emphasis on the emotional experience of pregnancy, rather than just the clinical side of it. At Johns Hopkins Hospital, elements of the design thinking process are embedded in the hospital’s approach to improving care.

Design Thinking can be used to be better at understanding the problems patients face and to give a solution to those problems in an empathetic and patient centered way.


References :

  1. Cost Benefit Analysis of Providing Non-Emergency Medical Transportation. Hughes-Cromwick, Paul, Wallace, Richard, Mull, Hillary, Bologna, J, Kangas, C, Lee, J, Khasnabis, S.
  2. Introduction to Design Thinking, Userhub.
  3. Making Design Thinking a Part of Medical Education. June 30, 2016.
  4. The Unexpected Benefits of Rapid Prototyping, Roger L. Martin.
  5. Mayo Clinic Transform 2013 Symposium, “IGNITE” with Bobbie Gostout.
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