design thinking

Over the last few years, design thinking has gained immense popularity. The applications of design thinking have made their way into almost every industry. Healthcare is one of them. Healthcare has reaped design thinking benefits in terms of greater customer satisfaction and ways to better understand the patients. Through this blog, we will understand more about how design thinking is driving innovation in healthcare. 

To start, let’s understand what design thinking is

Design thinking is a human-centred approach to problem-solving. It relies on creative solutions based on empathy. However, design thinking is not only about problem-solving but also about problem-identification. The healthcare sector, more than anyone else, knows how effective solutions are. The healthcare industry follows an evidence-based mindset and a strong reliance on quantitative aspects. And although this is important, it is also important to understand people’s needs and treat them with empathy. Design thinking also leverages rapid prototyping, collective idea generation, continuous testing and improvement, and tackling complex problems. 

Also Read: What is Design Thinking? Why is it important? 

Designing a Patient-Centered Approach

Millions of people across the world put off or miss their appointments due to several reasons. These missed appointments cause operational challenges such as rescheduling. Understanding the reason behind these no-shows can help create a more human-centric approach to solving the problems at hand. Paying attention to the patient’s needs and wants is essential. This persistent and costly problem can be minimized with the help of design thinking. If hospitals were versed in design thinking, they would identify this challenge and assign a team that can work on studying the patients and their effects. This team would use surveys, qualitative research methods, observations, and focus groups to help them understand their patients better. 

Looking at patterns would help the team investigate the no-shows and would be able to better understand the various reasons such as time management, patients forgetfulness, or socioeconomic reasons. After this is done, the team can work on brainstorming various solutions, prototyping them for testing. Once there’s a proposed solution at hand, the team would screen the process and identify the best possible solution. These solutions are tested on a few stakeholders, and this feedback will help decide whether the solutions need to be modified. In the end, a solution that is best suited for the patients will be chosen. 


Addressing a Broader Spectrum of Patient Challenges

There are a few existing examples of design thinking being used to create a fulfilling experience for patients. A great example of this would be the obstetrics and gynaecology department at Mayo Clinic, which used design thinking to reimagine prenatal care. To meet the mothers’ expectations, the Mayo Clinic focused on a greater emphasis on the mothers’ emotional needs. With the help of interviews and observations, they were able to create a sense of community and improve how the mothers felt.  

At the Johns Hopkins hospital, the team is taught how to provide empathy in a clinical setting. They are taught how to be more present with their patients and care for them. There is a team that helps the patients get through the period before surgery by listening to their concerns and looking at the individual as a human and not as a condition. There are a variety of domains where design thinking can be applied. The emergency-room waiting experience is one of them. Improving the patient’s experiences is every health care leader’s mission. Empathizing, thinking creatively, prototyping, and continuously testing solutions to problems at hand is a great way to do so. Design Thinking is the answer. 

Applying Design Thinking to Schizophrenia Care

With a deep passion for working with schizophrenia, Danielle Schlosser wished to change how schizophrenia treatment is viewed. As she was working towards this goal at the University of California, San Francisco, she was curious about how design thinking might be able to help. Soon after this, she met up with Silvia and her team at IDEO to discuss how design thinking could help in schizophrenia treatment. Through her insights, she interviewed a schizophrenia patient and was able to connect well with him, getting him to open up about his struggles. Through her research and the work between UCSF and IDEO, Silvia and Danielle created an app known as Prime that helps schizophrenia patients achieve their goals. 

Mindset Shifts in Healthcare

1. Shifts to Value-based Care
2. Shift from Being Reactive to Proactive
3. Balance High Regulation with Experimentation

Before solving a problem, it is important to understand the reason behind the problem and look at it with empathy. If design thinking has already piqued your interest, learn more about it by checking out the Stanford Design Thinking Program curriculum to understand what our course offers.

Also Read:
How Design Thinking has Revolutionised Five Prominent Industries 



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