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Design thinking in Healthcare

Design Healthcare

Design thinking has always been a need in the healthcare. Why? Healthcare has been built around legacy systems even when smartphone apps are getting integrated with AI and design thinking can be the one to change this outdated system. There is a huge potential in the healthcare industry but the most primal answer as to why UX & design can help healthcare is because it will create a lot of impact collectively in creating a better CX(Customer Experience).

Almost 10% to 17% deaths in the world are unfortunately due to medical errors and medical negligence. The medical staffs require immense training in understanding these outdated legacy systems which most EHR, and Patient Portal systems are now built as. This subsequently cuts down the time medical professionals and doctors spend with the patients thereby affecting their medical care. Especially critical systems such as Patient portal are so obsolete and there is also less or no research happening to reform them. Design thinking is the solution for this because of one reason, it will simplify the entire process from scratch thereby effectively removing the underlying layers of this complex Healthcare systems. Such removals would minimalize the entire system by presenting only the picture that are relevant to that user. Patient Management Systems would be the most beneficiary structures of this minimalism as presenting the right data to the right person is an essential move to wind up their user experiences.

Where can we use design thinking in healthcare? How do we implement design thinking in healthcare? Design thinking can be applied in the following areas.

• Patient care: Alleviating the fear of patients is one of the primary duties of any medical practitioner. And it’s no easy job. But we can simplify by implementing design thinking and creating a customer empathy map. For example cancer patients are quite afraid of the treatment process. We can create content to help them understand chemotherapy better and reduce their fear.
• Clinical experience: We can use design thinking to engage the close family members of the patients. Their moods also affect the patients and trying to reduce the family’s anxiety will actually help in boosting the patient’s morale.
• Websites and apps: If an app could give out real time data on the dopamine levels and give a warning note to the family physician, a lot of lives can be saved which are unfortunately being lost as part of addictions.

The next question is how to design an efficient healthcare experience. This would be a typical approach on building any digital product, where the user is always considered first, and in here the term user would be covering larger group of people from Front Office Assistants, Nurses, Technicians, Pharmacists, Therapists, to Physicians. They could be summarized in three steps as follows

• Analyze the requirements: This happens when you talk and listen to the patients. You have to put yourself in their shoes and then analyze. Then you will get a clear idea of what they want. Empathy, this one skill will help you out in step one. The best UX & Design engineers always understand the user’s pain points and come up with gain points.
• Brainstorm for ideas: Pick a wonderful team and start brainstorming for ideas. Put on your thinking cap and let the ideas flow. Never dismiss an idea however crazy it might sound. Apps like ICliniq and Practo were the results of these crazy ideas and they have indeed revolutionized the healthcare industry. But at the same time, be practical and don’t go off shooting for stars. For example if you’re building a SaaS model app for a healthcare platform try integrating them with other available systems like medical plans, insurance benefits etc… so the composition would help the user in taking better decisions as the switching time between multiple sources of knowledge is drastically reduced by collaboration.
• Prototype and repeat: You have the requirements and the idea. Now put it into action. Build a prototype. Test it and keep on repeating this until you have a workable model. Be careful to ask your team for feedbacks and demonstrate the prototypes regularly to improve upon its design.

Applying Design Thinking for healthcare is like an elephant climbing up a mountain. You cannot expect immediate results because your target customers are not here for leisure. They’re in pain and are here for a solution. Be the provider and you will grow even if it’s slow.