Design Principles for Future-Ready Healthcare Solutions

Healthcare is undeniably in a period of transformation. With technology providing new capabilities, shifting financial pressures as a result of demographic changes, changing power dynamics in service delivery as a result of open information, and evolving global philosophies around care, disruption is coming from everywhere.

As leaders in the design of care, we can either wade forward blindly into the unknown, or we can try to anticipate what futures may lie ahead. At Idea Couture, we’ve chosen to do the latter. As a team actively developing new healthcare solutions, we have a responsibility to design for both today and tomorrow. To create an informed perspective, our Health and Foresight teams undertook a significant, yearlong effort to try and understand where and how care may occur in the future. The team amassed thousands of signals that indicate upcoming change, collected the opinions of hundreds of health leaders and experts, and were given the time and space to creatively explore this mess.

The result was the publication of a book: The Future of Health: Spaces + Places of Care. The following excerpt has been pulled from the chapter on Healthcare Delivery and Community Care, specifically around using design principles to guide the development of new health solutions and extend their value throughout implementation.

Design Principles Defined

Design principles create a shared language and set of overarching guidelines for organizations. They maintain everyone’s focus on what is truly important to end-users by ensuring new designs reflect a collective understanding of purpose, demand, and the delivery capabilities of the organization. They can also help teams break out of organizational silos and align in the development and delivery of new ideas and initiatives by providing a consistent framework for how to approach organizational challenges. Shared internally, they can help team members set priorities and make decisions when new products, services, and systems are designed. This is crucial, since, as ideas and concepts inevitably evolve and change, these principles will enforce certain aspects of a new design to hold static or remain “true.”

As brands continue to design health solutions related to community care or health delivery, these design principles will help extend the value of their initiatives:

Keep medical records accessible yet safe.
Communication technologies make it easier to decentralize healthcare delivery. Give people access to and ownership over their health data to help them make better decisions. Design for safe and secure medical record keeping in the context of decentralized delivery and patient empowerment, ensuring that both the healthcare user and healthcare provider (HCPs) are accessing accurate records.

Design for the notion of an e-patient.
Give transient and remote patient populations more control of their own health records to ensure the delivery of more consistent and coherent healthcare. Give e-patients the tools to accurately monitor, track, and upload health data, so they can connect with HCPs who can provide care that meets their specific needs.

Develop, extend, and redefine care capacities.
A new definition of “healthcare provider” is emerging. Create new types of services and train service providers so they can care for patients and respond to unique healthcare needs in the most appropriate way.

Harness the skills and behaviors of communities for better care.
Grassroots solutions foster strong community relations, which, in turn, supports wellbeing. We need to consider how individuals can support each other within their communities and what resources would make it possible to connect those with different levels of ability, thereby turning passive consumers into active participants in the delivery of healthcare.

Optimize home environments to support patient care.
Acknowledge that our physical environment impacts us. Use technology to move care into the community, to bring HCPs into patients’ homes, and create environments that support specific needs.

So how does this translate to be practical for your organization?

As is common with design principles, these all feel very common sense—and they’re supposed to. These pointers are simply rules of thumb for how to apply the trends we are witnessing to your business, and how to stay agile in the ever-changing healthcare climate. As we are designing patient support programs and building new brand strategies, for example, are we also considering the channels to suit a new type of patient (e-patients) and the value they place on new delivery systems (extending care capacities)? The goal is not to only solve for the problems at hand, but create strategies, tactics, or programs that are intrinsically able to pivot and stay flexible throughout execution capabilities and industry shifts.

the author

IC Health Team