Design Thinking in Healthcare – Can it improve Patient Experiences? Patient-centered approach has been the central principle of healthcare design

Healthcare is a very sensitive topic and the first thing that we associate with it is human connection, compassion and empathy. Every ailing patient wanthealthcare-2s o be heard, helped and cared for. Last 3-4 years have seen design to permeate the healthcare industry and hence a shift towards compassion and sympathy. Care givers with a deep emotional understanding in healthcare, think of patients first — as they are the ones who need support and comfort in their most fragile and vulnerable moments. These medical practitioners always need to work on empathy, attention and understanding apart from doing a continuous research on individual patient cases, hacking diseases and learning new medication for constant reinvention. Keeping in mind a constant change, Design thinking has set a strong foothold in health care, leading to the development of new products and the improved design of spaces.
Design Thinking is getting absorbed gradually in the industry with UX-UI Design. Though developing advanced healthcare platform is costly as the barriers to entry are high, constant innovation is still happening. Even though a lot of hospitals have implemented very hi-tech measures like Predictive Analytics, telemedicine etc., most of them have realised that lower-tech measures can also be improved by their ongoing Design Thinking programme.Since design thinking involves continuously testing and refining ideas, feedback is sought early and often, especially from patients.
At the essence of Design Thinking in most hospitals, while the patients talk to the doctor, their in house design thinking team realized that not all patients are looking for the same conversation. They concluded that all the patients fit into one of four categories: Google patients, who are obsessive about information; dominant patients, who like to be firmly in charge of their case; quiet patients, who will say everything is fine, even when it isn’t; and emotional patients, who, more than anything, just want reassurance that their caregivers are looking after them. This program differs from conventional design-thinking work in that its positive impact goes well beyond “the customer.”1310_Design_thinking_healthcare_Ontario_900_540_80
After researching the different ways in which people respond to fear, the coach on the design-thinking team trained the concerned hospital’s staff to look for the distinctive set of verbal and nonverbal cues, that marked patient behaviour as belonging to one of four types and then respond appropriately. These annual training sessions to identify the four types of patient have also improved the level of communication between several staff members.

It’s a long journey and every health care leader’s mission is to improve patient experiences. With the onset of Design thinking in healthcare sector, decision makers will have to empathize with patients more, think creatively, prototype, and continually test alternate solutions to these problems, to bring about a revolution in this space. Let’s watch out for the next big breakout of Design Thinking practice in this sphere.

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