With the advent of biotechnology, genomics, and human-centric patient care, the healthcare industry is going through an era of rapid change. Both the rate and potency of this change are going to increase as the combined efforts of technological advancement and demographic shift bring about business opportunity for patient solutions. Included in the contemporary progression of healthcare is the inclusion of experience and service design into clinical and vendor practices. These disciplines offer the healthcare industry fresh insights into patient experience, offering methods for holistic solutions to the complex problems that trouble today’s patients, healthcare practitioners, vendors, and policy makers.
In his book, Design for Care, Peter Jones highlights the design issues facing healthcare and illustrates how stakeholders can navigate the changes and produce a better system for all. MISC sat down with Dr. Jones and discussed the role of service and experience design in healthcare.
/ Tell us a bit about your book.
PJ: The book, Design for Care, is the accumulation of four to five years of research based off a proposal to Rosenfeld Media back in 2008. The notion at the time was for the impact of design thinking and service design as a profession competency to be integrated into new healthcare practices and healthcare education and across the spectrum of healthcare application areas. Previously, you were likely to see design and design thinking primarily in health IT, in health 2.0, in health web and mobile applications and digital media. But that is a very small slice of impact when you look at the actual full spectrum of healthcare.
Everyone uses information or content to some extent to answer healthcare and care questions for themselves or their families, but I think the higher impact is going to be for designers to move more deliberately and more strategically into clinical practices and large healthcare institutions and start to teach what we learn and start to put out new types of designers.
/ What role do you think experience and service design plays for both patient and healthcare practitioner?
PJ: I cover the spectrum of experience design by following the individuals experience early on as a consumer. It’s important to realize that no one is a patient all the time and people who are suffering from a condition or are going through healthcare treatments don’t think of themselves as users. Regardless of the apps they have or the websites they use, they are not dedicated users to very many resources. So the level of engagement for experience design is a lot thinner than we may think.
We are almost at the point where the experience design around the usage of information will be greatly enhanced, as we get very large databases. This will enable health-seekers to answer more complicated questions about their own health conditions, and the possible steps they can take to obtain better health.
The pace of procedural innovation is a whole line of service, education, and competency that designers and design thinking hasn’t even approached yet. This is in regards to accelerating and enhancing the delivery of evolving treatments and procedures, and complex mixes of therapies that people have.
As for service design, there are so many touch points throughout the patient journey, but designers today wouldn’t touch more than one or two of these touch points and they think service design is about improving the experience that their client has access to. Their client has just a slice of time, a slice of the overall experience. Nobody can even think about the end-to-end right now, and that’s a huge opportunity for the future.
That’s really where design thinkers can come in and understand the complete journeys of the individual experience in healthcare and health-seeking, while realizing that healthcare is a series of services. Today these services are provided in a supply side approach by healthcare organizations and by the systems and policies that they are part of, which is massively complex. Yet, there is no good way to integrate all the different points for coordination of care for the patient’s entire journey.
Healthcare is slow to change. I worked on the book for five years, and nothing has changed. A few things – like the increase of applications used – have, but they aren’t necessarily any better. It’s just more choice, which as we know from the paradox of choice, is not good. Therefore we need more integration.
/ You mentioned apps; what other changes are occurring outside the doctor’s office and hospitals that can improve patient experience?
PJ: Among vendors, in the last five years, there is a lot of venture capital and investor money coming into startups, especially in the digital media sectors of healthcare, and that has provided a lot of vendor services that are looking for demand markets. But the consumer information market in healthcare is not one that pays anything. There is no pricing power for the individual consumer, so all the business models that are going to be successful on the vendor side of digital media in health 2.0 are going to be industry deals that are consolidations of larger platforms that want the particular service provided by a vendor. This would also include content, like access to medical journals and the other sources of evidence-based content.
There is good opportunity for service design and content development, but right now the industry needs to be in a consolidation phase, it has to find the best value for the patient.