It’s time for a fresh approach to the way IT systems are designed, as well as a fresh approach to solving business problems. Design as a way of thinking, design as a process that can be shared to make what the enterprise produces much better for the people who use them.

The consumerization of IT has raised user expectations for simpler, well-designed interfaces to enterprise applications as well. Design thinking needs to go deeper than the user interface layer. This extends from “the application of the visual layer down through the application layer and into the functionality of the systems and the tools that we create”, says Nelson Kunkel, director with Deloitte Consulting LLP,

By adopting the principles of design thinking, healthcare leaders, strategists, and marketers can transform their organizations to meet the demands of a new consumer-driven healthcare landscape.”

Multi-disciplinary teams want/need to save time, improve communication, collaborate

Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel cut the ribbon this week at Inspiration Place, its new concierge center for women’s health. The 12,000 square foot facility offers whole person health care ALL in one place, ALL in one day AND you can get a massage or a mani-pedi, too.

Gone are the days of scheduling a routine exam, then making a separate appointment on a separate day at a separate facility for your routine bloodwork or imaging, such as a mammogram. At Inspiration Place, you can get same day results and have any necessary follow-ups and additional testing that day as well, while enjoying spa services in between appointments.

It might look like staff at the new St. Elizabeth’s Hospital are looking at their smart phones while they walk the halls and talk to patients, but they’re actually using a handy new tool that is expected to improve communication and make their jobs easier.

The Vocera handheld mobile device is a new tool nurses, doctors and hospital staff alike can use to communicate securely about anything from filling medicine requests to looking up a patient’s medical records. Instead of a pager, medical providers can text one another using the HIPAA-compliant devices.

It is necessary to understand the user–and anticipate his or her needs and engage them meaningfully. Today’s patients live in a different world and expect very different things from their health care.

Families expect to be involved in the care of their loved ones, multiple specialists may need to coordinate, and data must be shared among institutions. Relationships and networked communication are the backbone of health care in the future.

People have come to expect the increasingly personalized and relevant experiences they enjoy shopping online or hailing a ride to be available in other parts of their lives, including health care.

If we’re redesigning an outpatient experience, we need to involve everyone, from the practice manager to the receptionist, in order to understand what their roles are and, more importantly, how those roles interact to create the experience patients have when they need care.

Keeping all of these themes and guidelines in mind can seem overwhelming in its own right, but the important thing to take away is that health care is changing–quickly–and the role of design in health care is becoming more visible and more powerful.

In the end design is all about empathy. This is what leads to creativity, inspiration and breakthrough solutions to problems.

But How ?

Start with having the vision and commitment to utilize design thinking as a framework during planning to lead to better care and more efficient processes. Identify work tools for the workflow that can evolve from exploration to experimentation by prioritizing use cases, building prototypes, and conducting pilots. When the value proposition of the experiment meets business case expectations, consider pilot and ultimately scaling the innovations.

IT and clinical/business leaders can develop a deliberate and repeatable method for evaluating, experimenting with, and implementing these emerging technologies. Without a programmatic approach, even the most promising new ideas may never move beyond the science project phase to deliver the exponential outcomes that are possible.

As the design process unfolds there are “spark continuous improvement in health care.  Design thinking provides a great framework, a great way of thinking, and can considerably improve health care experience and outcomes.

The interplay of design thinking with the experience and skills of healthcare professionals led Venice Family Clinic to what they hope will be new levels of efficiency and improved patient experience.  What the clinic team learned in this process is as much about the future as it is about the present.

By learning design thinking, those on the front lines of hospitals, clinics, and related service organizations gain the “creative confidence” to make change happen. This confidence boost requires a change in mindset from leadership as well, so staff is both supported and encouraged to apply their knowledge to improving the lives of everyone who interacts with healthcare professionals – that is, with everyone.