By Thomas Brandenburg
In all of these instances the act of enabling others to share their experience and help shape a shared output brings the designer into the role of facilitator. In my experience, creating this space for others to have a voice is one of the most powerful ways to start change.
1. What are the biggest challenge(s) you face applying Service Design to Healthcare?
I find the biggest challenge is balancing between standardized processes and tools while also being flexible enough to meet the nuanced needs of specific customers. Every healthcare provider organization or health system is slightly different – they have different roles, unique structures, and their own processes. Knowing what to standardize because it is critical to achieve results, and what to adapt for a particular customer is a continual question.
2. What framework(s) and/or key performance indicators have you found useful to measure the impact of service design?
Since most of my work touches on some aspect of population health management, that has a big influence on what we measure and what we are trying to impact. Clinical outcomes – measurably healthier people – is the main performance indicator for our work. That could be measured by how stable someone’s health measurements are, or by how often they have to go to a hospital or emergency department. We also look at patient satisfaction and engagement, because we are building services that enable doctors and nurses to interact with individuals in their homes on an ongoing basis. It’s also important for us to track the efficiency of the doctors and nurses who use our solutions. Since our customers are managing large numbers of patients remotely, they need to be able to locate who needs their attention the most and make a clinical decision as quickly as possible.
3. Besides having a mindset and the skill set for service design, what other knowledge, experience, or skills do you see as valuable for a designer to have in his or her repertoire today in the healthcare space?
Understanding the business side of both healthcare and insurance is extremely valuable. Many individuals haven’t had to think too much about how insurance works and the resulting effect on how they receive care – through healthcare reform is changing everyone’s awareness. Having a working knowledge of changes in reimbursement and how risk is distributed makes it much easier to understand the goals and the challenges faced by health systems, individual healthcare providers, and the general public.
4. Can you speak to how service design might be an agent of change in healthcare, anything from creating internal initiatives to reinventing policies?
Service design can be an agent of change when individuals are empowered to turn their knowledge into action through making. That could be as simple as mapping a workflow for a clinical procedure, as complex as defining a model of team-based healthcare delivery, or as emotional as understanding the journey of aging. In all of these instances the act of enabling others to share their experience and help shape a shared output brings the designer into the role of facilitator. In my experience, creating this space for others to have a voice is one of the most powerful ways to start change.
5. What would you like to see happen for the future of service design in healthcare?
I’d like to see service design continue to grow in governments at a national and local level. So much of health is dependent on where someone lives and the resources at their disposal. It would be great to see more service designers working to connect access to social and support services across government and private companies into seamless, considered experiences across the world.
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