We are living in a world where our personal data is commoditised, everyday services are being automated and our reliance on technology is rapidly increasing, however we as humans still crave that human, personal, touch. This is never truer than in the healthcare industry, where volume is no longer highly esteemed. Instead, society is looking for value-based care that focusses on empathy, a positive user experience and creating value for each individual.
That perhaps explains the increase in demand for Design Thinking in this sector. G2 Innovation’s Co-Founder, Andrew Jones describes Design Thinking as ‘an approach that always puts human insight at the centre, encouraging you to get right into the nitty gritty of the human experience to ensure that your ultimate solution adds value where it matters most.’
For healthcare organisations this means understanding their users’ needs and giving them what they want, ahead of any other agenda.
But while the healthcare focus has shifted from volume to value, it doesn’t remove existing pressures on an already stretched system: Financial stability, technology, research, data management, demographic changes, cyber security, budget, time, and resource restrictions all while meeting consumer demands and maintaining cultures of healing.
This is what makes Design Thinking the perfect framework to drive healthcare innovation with practical solutions that deliver real value for end users (patients and clinicians) and organisations across healthcare spaces, services and products. Health is notoriously time and resource poor and the design-thinking framework thrives on barriers, and restrictions, by using fast, cheap and efficient tools and processes to create impact. Design Thinking requires just paper, pens and people!
Design Thinking is playing a huge part in healthcare innovation from macro challenges like organisational transformation, hospital layout design and restructuring of processes and systems to micro challenges such as patient wait times, missed appointments and improved patient experience.
Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Singapore had many of the challenges facing healthcare service providers – the ageing population placing increasing demand on services. They needed to cut waste, find efficiencies, make processes more productive and redesign the space, all the while keeping the user at the centre. They turned to Design Thinking.
Human-centred from the outset, stakeholder involvement was pivotal to the project’s success. Tan Tock Seng engaged with a diverse team that were able to identify issues and challenges at each stage of the project.
A taskforce of doctors, nurses, staff from finance, operations, management information and senior management, who all shared a common vision of delivering the best patient care, gathered together to use Design Thinking to develop a range of human-centred products and services for their patients.
- Reorganising services in the building making them more convenient for patients to access.
- Improving coordination between services, so patients didn’t have to walk from one end of the clinic to another.
- Patient-friendly designs allowing patients to be served within each zone in the shortest time.
- Electronic queue and appointment systems so patients can track their place in the queue using the same number across multiple clinics allowing staff to better monitor patient waiting time.
- Self-registration processes and new machines allow patients to take their own blood pressure.
- Repetitive pharmacy tasks were automated to reduce human error.
- Frontline staff jobs were redefined making them more productive.
Ultimately, this resulted in a cut to patient waiting times of 40% in its outpatient pharmacy and doctor waiting times by 7%.
While this is a large structural transformation, the same process can be used on all sorts of challenges, big and small. For example, Design Thinking has helped turn frightening examinations into child-friendly, fairy-tale-like experiences, developed employee-led and loved wellbeing programs, introduced VR into aged care, reduced the amount of waste going to landfill and made huge commercial inroads in health r&d projects.
As in all industries, the healthcare industry is experiencing rapid change and exponential growth. Design Thinking presents a powerful way to future proof, transform and add value across spaces, products and services all while delivering genuine value to the end user - both the patient and the clinician.
Want to experience Design Thinking for yourself. Take a look at our range of training programs from full scale organisational transformation programs to individual and team training workshops. We cater for everyone's needs and budgets.