Everything in health care is designed. It goes without saying that our processes, experiences and systems must be designed well. The following tools present key “innovation by design”
concepts that can be applied today to help navigate the health care business challenges of today and tomorrow.
Everything in health care is designed. It goes without saying that our processes, experiences and systems must be designed well. The following tools present key “innovation by design” concepts that can be applied today to help navigate the health care business challenges of today and tomorrow.
Use immersive observations to understand user needs and desires. Don't take something to be the case simply because others have said so. In order to positively change the current state, an innovator goes to "the field" to understand what is actually going on in a particular situation.
Gather Data Tools
Think Aloud Protocol
Process what you've gathered to make new connections and identify opportunities. Data do not speak for themselves. They require interpretation. Some of the best interpretations are insights that provide directional guidance as well as clear and actionable next steps.
Grasp Insights Tools
Give It Life
Try multiple solutions before committing to implement something fully. Innovation is just as much about ideation and testing as it is about coming up with ideas. In addition, the people-side of making something come to live involves working with stakeholders and "end-users" as a team.
Give It Life Tools
Testing Your Prototype
Go For Quantity
Using immersive observations and other methods to understand user needs and desires
Gather Data Tools
This tool consists of observing people in their actual environment of use or work. Surveys can help identify if something in the world is occurring but are weak when it comes to identifying how something works and why. By going to the field and seeing how something is really used provides fresh data to start down an innovative path.
- Directly observe people in action. Ideally, you want them to go through their tasks or actions as they would do without your observation.
- Also observe their surroundings and with whom they are interacting to get the work or activity done. Document things that strike you as odd, interesting or particularly important.
- You may feel overwhelmed at first, but don’t worry about capturing every piece of possible data. Focus on what the person is actually doing, and listen to them as they indicate moments of frustration or delight.
A journey map visualizes a patient or employee experience from end to end. As we strive to present seamless, frictionless and holistic experiences, this tool helps to identify current-state "pain points" as well as potential opportunities for improvement. Visualizing problems and opportunities often leads to concrete and actionable next steps.
- Determine whose or what journey is the focus of the work. If the task is to improve patient experience, the patient’s perspective is important. For example, “recovering” rather than “discharging” better captures an in-patient’s perspective. Things may also have a journey (e.g. samples undergoing laboratory testing).
- Determine the major steps required to have a meaningful journey. For example, there should be more than 2 steps. Your journey should have a beginning, middle and an end just like a good story.
- Identify pain points. Some moments do not matter as much while other moments are absolutely critical to get right. These moments become great opportunities for prioritization and improvement.
- Don’t just improve a single touchpoint or part of the journey. Rather, work to improve a sequence of steps as this kind of “stitching” and coordination matters most to end-users.
Think Aloud Protocol
This is tool involves participants thinking aloud as they perform a set of tasks. Participants are asked to say whatever comes into their mind as they complete the task. This process helps to identify misconceptions of design elements and ways to improve the current state situation. This tool can also be used to validate a new product or process.
- Recruit representative users or participants. If the initiative is to improve patient experience, you’ll want to engage with patients. If it’s an internal effort to improve workflow or the employee experience, you’ll want to recruit some peers.
- Give the participants representative tasks to perform. For example, it might be to “book an appointment” using the website or mobile app for patients.
- Now be quiet and let the user do the talking as he or she goes through the steps. As a facilitator, you may need to prompt users to keep them talking.
- Remember to take notes as any moments of delight expressed to frustration become primary data to inform your redesign effort.
Processing what has been gathered to make new connections and identify novel opportunities
Grasp Insights Tools
A truly deep dive into data - whether by administering a survey or collecting observations - leaves the innovation inquirer with a lot to manage. There has to be a way to make sense of the raw data. One powerful way to gain insight is by identifying themes or patterns across the data. This activity helps to simplify the problem or opportunity, makes it digestible for the intended audience and also help tee up the initial work for actionable next steps.
- Recommendation – it is helpful to capture each idea from the initial data collection on a public wall. Sticky notes are great for this.
- Begin to cluster the individual notes into larger ideas based on associative connections. Debate or discussion with your team (or self) is important here to consider the pros and cons of each clustering potential.
- Give the theme(s) a name and a short description. Having a short visual sketch next to the theme may help make it more memorable and sticky.
A persona is a type of person or archetype informed by actual attitudes and actions among a group of people. For example, a retailer might personify "The Trend Setter" or "Prosumer"and an automaker "The Soccer Mom" to better understand the needs of their users. When designing for patients or fellow caregivers, it helps to understand who they are instead of making assumptions. This tool helps to ensure decisions you make resonate with real people and their actual behaviors.
- Have some rich data that provides some in-depth understanding of people’s actual attitudes and behaviors. If you need to do this, the Gather Data section has some helpful tools.
- Begin to craft a “profile”of who the target user is. While it might be fun to add interesting details, remember to capture the really important aspects that associate with your stated problem or opportunity. Stating the persona’s favorite color might not be relevant to your work but his/her preferred technology medium might be (e.g. some caregivers prefer to communicate using mobile and not desktop computers).
- Each of the characteristics or traits of the persona should be somehow tied to your research for it to be relevant and credible.
- Consider other personas as an opportunity typically has more than one persona who might benefit from the offering (e.g. The Early Adopter and Laggard when it comes to technology adoption).
In addition to engaging with "average users" of the system, engaging with "extreme users" can be helpful. Such individuals typically have amplified needs and their workarounds tend to hint at emergent consumer or user behaviors. Interestingly, the needs that are present with extreme users are often also the needs of the wider population.
- Think about the different types of people who might use your solution. You’ll want to connect with people whom you expect to use your solution. These are the “average users” (or middle-of-the-bell-curve users).
- Also think about those who seem unlikely to use your solution. For example, finding an elderly senior who is much more tech savvy than her grandchildren or a fellow employee who has more dependents as part of his health plan than anyone else you know may indicate that there are some interesting user needs present.
- Observe and interview your extreme users as you would others (see “Gather Data” for some tools). Pay particular attention to any workaround or extreme behaviors. These may provide clues to what needs are not currently being met as well as what might become the new norm in terms of expectations. That is, they may provide insight into future trends.
Give it Life
Ideating to explore and test multiple solutions before building and implementing on a viable plan
Give it Life Tools
Testing Your Prototype
It can be tempting to jump right into building the final solution without stepping back to ask whether users will find it useful, usable and desirable. Iterative prototyping improves the probability of catching problems earlier in the process. It does so by introducing users to sketches and drafts rather than the final baked-in-stone implementation of your idea.
- You should have some kind of prototype that you have built to try it out with various users. Note: a prototype does not need to be something tangible or physical. For example, having a visual sketch of how a new process, service or experience should be can also serve as a prototype.
- Fill out the “Plan & Articulate” part of the form by yourself or with your team. The important task is to take your idea as being something inside your head and putting it into some publicly visible form. This way, others can provide concrete feedback.
- Ask someone or a group to try your prototype. As they are experiencing it, fill out the “Test & Iterate” part of the template. Use as many pages of this tool as necessary.
- Review each of the items captured. Based on feedback, determine what changes might make your idea better and/or your solution stronger. Use the “Takeaway” section to document ways to improve your idea based on feedback. Repeat the entire process as you see fit.
- Prototyping typically ends due to practicality: there may be a hard project deadline or a sense of diminishing returns after many improvements have been made.
This tool is about being intentional about the first impression conveyed by your solution. This can be applied to physical products but also to processes that unfold in time. If the first impression is complicated to users, this will negatively impact both the perception and actual usage of your offering. Use this tool to focus on reducing unnecessary steps and introducing delight in the first moments.
- Think about a great first impression experience. It might be a physical out-of-the-box (or OOBE) experience that you had with your new cell phone purchase. Even though there was a manual in the box, the steps in the un-packaging experience were self-explanatory and you even appreciated that the phone was already charged out-of-the-box. Or maybe you had a great on-line concert ticket booking experience (a process). In this case, the “virtual” out-of-the-box experience was delightful even though it was, at heart, a transaction.
- This tool assumes you or your team already have a good grasp of how a product, service or experience is currently “packaged” and delivered. Examples include welcoming packets or the discharge folder. Consider that there are many first impressions throughout the care continuum for both patients and employees.
- Prototype what the sequence of steps would be in a new and improved future state offering. You may have discovered ways to remove some wasteful or unnecessary steps or found some important things to add into a revised process.
- Determine if your new offering comes in a conventional form (e.g. folder, box) and what the essential contents are. Does the new packaging benefit from visuals like an IKEA furniture assembly manual? What is presented first, second, etc.?
- Make sure you have simplified the content as well as steps. Make sure the materials in the unveiling process have unity (e.g. look alike, the language used have a cohesive “voice”).
- Have people use your prototype and provide feedback. Use their input to iterate and make improvements.
Go For Quantity
We're familiar with the saying, "don't settle for good when you can have the best." This tool is about pushing oneself or team in order to avoid falling in love with the first solution. As Edison famously explored 10,000 variations to arrive at his final lightbulb solution, this tool forces one to also think about alternative possibilities not at the expense of quality but to achieve it.
- Put aside the idea that you and/or your team have come up with THE solution. Instead, consider what you have created A solution. Start with this idea: I/We have made something such as an improved process. Now that we know it can be done, how might we do it even better?
- Determine if the activity of sketching alternative solutions is better done as a group or as an individual.
- Give yourself a time limit. It might be as long as 1-hour or as short as 10-minutes. You’d be surprised how much can be determined in a short amount of time.
- Commit to creating as many alternative solutions as you can. Do not worry at this point about how realistic the solution might be from an execution perspective. Reality will kick in and filter out which solutions have a shot at being successful. Your task is to come up with as many ideas – both achievable as well as “silly” – in order to generate some unconventional solutions.
- Even among some of the outlandish ideas, determine if there are nuggets or pieces that can be taken and put together to form an even better idea than your original solution.