Design Thinking & Human-Centered Design Examples in Healthcare

Explore examples of how design thinking and human-centered design has led to innovation in healthcare.

Healthcare is one industry among many that can benefit from innovative thinking and human-centered design principles. Through the use of methodologies like design thinking, hospitals and other healthcare providers have been able to create unique solutions in their industry to better serve their patients. In this post, we highlighted some of the top examples of design thinking and human-centered design in this industry.

1. Using Agile Thinking to Keep Hospitals Aligned

For many larger healthcare providers who manage multiple hospitals, clinics, and members, staying on top of information and potential issues can be an overwhelming challenge. For Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare, this challenge became a lot easier once they began to use agile thinking to transform how information was passed between the organization. Using a 15-minute “huddle” structure, the healthcare provider was able to develop a system that made it easy for important knowledge to quickly escalate up to executive leadership and be addressed. All communication is tracked and the outcome is communicated back through all the tiers of management, so participants will understand the value of their input and stay involved. In the first year of operation on the new model, over 365 unique issues were tackled at their Tier VI level alone, resulting in active solutions to improve patient services.

2. Applying Design Thinking to Schizophrenia Care

Image Courtesy of IDEO

During a series of studies at the University of California San Francisco, researcher Danielle Schlosser (with the assistance of IDEO) realized that providers in the clinical system were not connecting to the patients during the interviews at a human level, making the process more difficult. As a result of their work, they developed Prime – an app focused on helping individuals with schizophrenia achieve goals and get support.

3. Using Design to Create Better Healthcare Spaces

Founded in 2015 as a collaboration between the Dell Medical School and the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas-Austin, the Design Institute for Health focuses on generating systematic approaches and large-scale transformations in healthcare through design thinking. Some of their projects include an outpatient ambulatory surgery center, wait times to see an orthopedic surgeon, and health challenges that occur in the day-to-day of people’s lives.

4. The Next Generation Heart Monitor

Image Courtesy of IDEO

This San Francisco startup used design thinking and human-centered design methodology to create an innovative heart monitor for people affected by Atrial Fibrillation. The AliveCor Heart Monitor is 50% thinner and 40% lighter than the earlier version, making it easier to fit into people’s lifestyle and makes collecting information effortless.

5. Saying Goodbye to Hospital Infections

Over 2 million Americans contract hospital-acquired infections, a serious challenge that results in over 100,000 deaths and $30 billion in costs every year. SwipeSense, a healthcare startup, aimed to solve this challenge with a wearable alcohol-based gel dispenser that clips easily onto scrubs and records every time the user disinfects their hands. The system wirelessly tracks hand-washing practices, allowing doctors and nurses to see and monitor their performance daily, weekly, and monthly. By adding accountability to the healthcare industry’s day-to-day operations, the startup hopes to address the alarming number of hospital infections and save 100,000 lives each year.

These examples of design and thinking and human-centered design in healthcare illustrate the innovative ways these methodologies are being used to improve patient services and experiences. For more examples of innovation in action, check out our post on Design Thinking & Human-Centered Design in Medical Devices & Pharma. To learn more about healthcare innovation, read Utilizing Performance Improvement (LEAN/SixSigma) and Human Centered Design to Improve the Healthcare System from the Patient Perspective.
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