Design thinking has proven to be a very useful tool for healthcare. Healthcare is one area where there are a lot of processes in place and a lot of scope for innovation. On a daily basis, new innovative techniques are coming up to improve the healthcare condition of the countries across the world. The end users of healthcare are always those who need and deserve the best healthcare facilities.
Design thinking can certainly help the healthcare experts to come up with solutions that plague the healthcare system. The basic question for every healthcare expert is ‘how to provide quality healthcare at low and affordable prices to everyone?’
The example of Venice Family Clinic, cited in one of the earlier sections, is the best example to be quoted. The innovators at Venice Family Clinic found that the pit crews at auto races worked in a coordinated manner to save every fraction of a second. They thought if this model could be replicated in the reception area of the clinic. They then came up with the idea of making the reception mobile. The idea was to have someone walk up with an iPad or a tablet to the patient and welcome each of the patients individually.
They collaborated with the Art Centre College of Design in Pasadena and architects from Houston/Tyner in Torrance, and they simulated the entire idea in the area of a future children’s clinic. The healthcare providers and operation staff could actually move about easily and play their respective roles.
A similar experience was observed in the emergency department of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, Dallas, where a patient called Eric Duncan reported with a few symptoms like low-grade fever, dizziness, and pain. He was later diagnosed with Ebola. How could the doctors miss the symptoms of Ebola when he was first diagnosed? The Electronic Health Record (EHR) was checked and was found to be flawless too.
The problem was that the EHR system worked only when the patients conformed the way they worked to the way EHR worked. The major flaw, hence, in EHR was that it was engineered. Now stress was put on gaining an understanding of how a system is likely to be used and then create the system in accordance with that understanding.
According to Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO, design thinking in healthcare is important. In one of TEDMED talks, he asked how can there be better access to clean drinking water for people from rural areas and at the same time, usher in innovation for local water providers. His team teamed with 11 water providers across India, brainstormed on how to bring innovation in water supply.
A competition was held amongst the providers. Five of these providers were provided seed funding for their ideas and this helped in buying new vehicles, new equipment, etc. In another case, in India, an NGO found that with better water filtration systems and good transport facilities, the subscription to clean water increased fourfold. These examples show how design thinking can help in healthcare.