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  • Harvard Business Review

How health care providers can use Design Thinking to improve patient experience?

A recent article by HBR addresses one of the most complex challenges in health care - missed medical appointment. Each year, approximately 3.6 million people miss or put off medical appointments due to transportation issues, leading to annual costs for health care providers in the billions of dollars and several operational challenges as well. The reasons for missing medical appointments are not always as clear, but to solve this problem health care providers first need to understand them. Using the Design Thinking toolbox and understanding the entire patient experience, from early stages to the end, can be useful.

Many leading hospitals are starting to use Design Thinking to address similar challenges, improve patient experience and lower costs. For instance, a hospital in Minnesota used Design Thinking to redesign prenatal care. They wanted to better meet the expectations and needs of expectant mothers, who desired a greater emphasis on the emotional experience of pregnancy, rather than just the clinical side of it. After conducting the research, observations and interviews, the hospital decided to create online care communities, facilitated by nurses and other pregnancy advisers. As a result, there was an overall improvement in how prepared and empowered these expectant mothers felt. In a similar way, John Hopkins Hospital implemented Design Thinking with a team of coaches, who were trained in the importance of empathy in clinical settings, The team coaches the clinical staff on a daily basis. Other hospitals use Design Thinking to improve the patient’s emergency-room waiting experience.

The authors conclude - It’s every health care leader’s mission to improve patient experience. Design thinking is a useful process for doing so, as it requires decision makers to empathize with patients, think creatively, prototype, and continually test solutions to these problems.

In Whiteboard we took part in some meaningful projects in health care which created a significant impact on the experience of patients and health care providers.

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