Driving innovation in healthcare organizations

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Last week, I joined entrepeneur Enrique Allen and designer Leslie Ziegler at Kaiser, where we spoke to doctors from their internal innovation program. We hoped to inspire them as well as to illustrate how design could be used inside Kaiser to improve processes and overall care.

I referred to two case studies—Cooper’s work on the Practice Fusion iPad-based EMR, and a visioning project around the patient clinic experience. In these, I illustrated how we identify problems, generate ideas, and drive decision-making during detailed design.

Both case studies highlighted ways in which multidisciplinary teams can make progress by using cheap prototypes that are quickly iterated. In the case of the Practice Fusion app, we used paper prototypes to test and evolve everything from content organization to animation. We did not need to get permission of a hospital IT staff or work with an engineer; we simply needed a new piece of paper and a Sharpie. Prototyping a service starts in a similar manner. Using storyboards and cartoons, we were able to generate and evaluate myriad patient journeys without making costly process and staffing changes.

Many of the questions during the Q&A were symptomatic of a large organization that is beholden to fluctuating regulation. One attendee asked how to get front-line staff on board when they’re already suffering from change fatigue. This will require both communication and empowerment. At Cooper U we teach the value of a radiator wall (a wall showing the progress and decisions of a project) in rallying a team and communicating with an organization; this kind of tool could help establish a sense of consistency and direction amid large-scale changes.

All of Kaiser’s departments were represented at our talk, from general practitioners to specialists. All are charged with improve patient care and overall quality. I appreciated the opportunity to bring some lessons from my experience in healthcare and design, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they tackle next.

1 Comment

Melissa m.
Great post. I'm personally very excited about the prospect of design helping to improve various facets within the healthcare system. Also look at the work that Kaiser's internal Innovation Consultancy Group is doing. http://xnet.kp.org/innovationconsultancy/ A lot of very similar thinking going on. I worked on the NKEplus project that they did which focused on re-structuring nurse shift change procedures for better hand-off and patient participation. http://xnet.kp.org/innovationconsultancy/nkeplus.html cheers!

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