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.

Spaces, Disruption and Design Thinking

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How important is the space in which you conduct a design thinking workshop? Cant it happen in any room, in any building, with any set up?

When we explain to clients and people that we need to check out the venue before conducting a Design Thinking Intro workshop for them, it is usually met by a baffled response. So I will attempt to explain the relation between spaces, people and design thinking.

Do you remember the last time you went to a beach?

When you arrived there, what did you feel like doing?

Let me guess, you wanted to go on a long walk to explore the place to eventually find a quaint, indoor café where you could catch up on some reading…
…probably not!

Your first thought was actually to take a quick dip in the cool waters of the ocean, and then come back and lay on the beach chair, soaking in the sun and drinking a chilled beer.

However, if I changed this setting to a small town in Himachal Pradesh, India, you would probably want to do all the things I mentioned above – “go on a long walk to explore the place to eventually find a quaint, indoor café where you could catch up on some reading”

The point I am trying to make, in a round bout way, is that a space and its vibe influence your actions and your vibe.

As a refreshing change, we recently facilitated our nth client workshop, in a space that was really conducive to our purpose. And as we had imagined it was one of the most successful workshops we have witnessed.

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This is because a space and its vibe influence your actions and your vibe.

When you replace isolated desks with hexagon shaped tables and replace walls with surfaces on which you can write and paste, post and project, you disrupt the minds of your participants. You force them to discard their ways of working and explore new alternatives.

Design Thinking is usually described as a problem solving methodology. But the true value of it lies in its mindsets. It is these mindsets of design thinking that make it such a widely applicable process and it is these mindsets that help change the culture of organisations.

Hence I believe, that if Design Thinking were to be practiced in spaces that supported the mindsets it preaches, then the success of Design Thinking is sealed.

In the end, I would like to leave you with ideas you can use to disrupt the spaces in which you work, workshop, meet, brainstorm, etc.:

  • Change the way tables and chairs are arranged– let things be staggered and look chaotic, it’s better that the predictability of symmetry
  • Add some colour – Though formal corporate clothing and aesthetic says otherwise, people like colour
  • Play some music whenever you get a chance – it helps to get people out of their own heads
  • Find ways you can get people to move around 3-4 times through the day – no one likes stagnation.

If you have more ideas, add them in the comments, and we shall build this list!

Beyond the baker’s dozen

It’s that time of the year again — when we celebrate the completion of another year. A time to evaluate the year that was, and to look forward to the future.

Last year can be summed up simply as a couple of projects, and several challenges — perhaps more than we have faced in the past. But in hindsight, it is fair to say we have learnt more than ever from these tough times.

As our Founder & CEO writes in his very heartwarming message, thanking all those who have been part of the journey thus far:

We started up under worse conditions… We’ve still not run out of passion or belief. And we never will.

We’ve put the past behind us, and we know in our hearts that there are bright times ahead for us. With HealthWatch — a location-based platform for disease surveillance, which we developed last year — we’re certainly headed in the right direction.

And so we set the table, to celebrate our thirteenth birthday — on a Friday. Is it a sign? Perhaps. And we consider that lucky.

We’ve completed the baker’s dozen. Bakers arrange their loaves on a tray in a hexagonal pattern in batches of thirteen, arranged in a 4-5-4 formation (here’s an example). This is done so that the maximum number of loaves can be baked in one batch — corners are avoided because loaves don’t get cooked evenly on the corners. (Next time you enter a bakery, take a moment to appreciate their efficiency.)

Speaking of bakers, here’s what our cake looked like:

Happy Birthday to us!
Happy Birthday to us!

Our first dozen is complete. And we’re well on course for the next batch of thirteen.
And on that note, we dug into our cake. Year number fourteen, here we come!

Don’t forget to read the entire story of Ideafarms here: “Happy Birthday Ideafarms. Stay Kewl!”