Redesign and Empathy for Patients
The central tenet of design thinking, according to Kelley, isn't
one of aesthetic or utility, but of empathy and human observation. "Be
empathetic," Kelley explained to CBS' Charlie Rose. "Try to
understand what people really value." Doing that, he says, will lay the
foundation for more intuitive designs."
From Charlie Rose interview with David Kelly, founder of IDEO, a
practice design firm, on CBS 60 Minutes
January 7, 2013 – Last
night, as I listened on CBS’s 60 Minutes to Charlie Rose interview David Kelley,a close friend of the late Steve Jobs of Apple, I thought of how physicians
might redesign their practices to attract and keep patients. This will become increasingly important. There are already market signs that as health care prices
rise, patient volume drops and hospital admissions decline.
The World According to Kelley
According to Kelley, one can attract
consumers through attractive, intuitive design products based on empathy – on what patients
as human beings really want but may ot
even know what it is they want until they
see it. Coming up with the right design,
Kelley says, depends on putting together
a mix of different people from different disciplines and having them build on
each others’ ideas based on empathy for consumers. This is the kind of thinking that created
the computer mouse, the Apple Computer, the IPod, and the various IPads now spilling
off Apple production lines.
Could physicians use the same
philosophy to redesign their practices to appeal to health care consumers? Could they somehow engage their staff and their patients, to come up with the right intuitive, empathetic mix?
I believe they could, even
though patient care is not a “product,” but a process of human interaction and
anticipation of what patients are looking for.
In my opinion, patients are looking for sympathetic
understanding, quick convenient access, streamlining of the bureaucracy, grasp of risks and benefits, and, of
course, affordable dependable care.
This mix may be difficult to design,
but easier to perform once put in place than one might think.
Concierge practices are an
example of practice redesign and an appeal to patient empathy – 24 hour
access, unlimited time with the doctor,
navigation through the medical maze. Breaking up concierge payments from yearly
to monthly increments to make concierge practices more affordable modifies
Simplecare, a Renton-Washington
practice, breaks payments broken into 15 minutes, 30 minutes,
and 60 minute segments and gives access
to those without insurance is another example.
Retail clinics, whether staffed
by nurse practitioners or primary care doctors, or orthopedic clinics for minor
sprains and bruises , or cash-only
urgicenters for other problems are other spin-offs of the empathy theme.
In redesigning practices, keep in mind that it is
often simple human things that count. Susan Keane Baker, MHA, is a good
person to whom to talk to about patient-physician interactions. Trained as a
hospital administrator, Susan is author of Managing
Patient Expectations: The Art of Finding and ;Keeping Loyal Patients (Jossey-Bass,
1998, San Francisco.) Her book has been ranked #3 on Amazon.com’s list of 100
top sellers in the general medicine category.
Thirteen Moments of Truth, A Baker’s Dozen
Susan basically preaches this gospel to hospitals and doctors: pay attention to
human details: recognize the power of word of mouth, create a strong first
impression, listen closely, elicit patient feedback, educate patients, and use
best practice techniques. Above all, anticipate the following 13 human moments
of truth where patients form their opinions:
1. calling your organization,
2. making an appointment,
3. receiving directions,
4. meeting the receptionist,
5. waiting in reception or exam room,
6. meeting the clinician,
7. giving a history,
8. having an examination,
9. having an invasive procedure,
10. giving a lab specimen,
11. receiving discharge instructions and leaving the organization,
12. obtaining test results,
13. receiving a bill.
Finally, there is the visual. In his book, Mind Set!, John Naisbitt, author of Megatrends, says a visual culture is taking over the world.
With the changing communication mix of word and visual, Naisbitt says the visual will dominate.
So, think about creating a personal
video of yourself and your practice for online distribution on YouTube and for display
in your reception room. Think about
developing video describing the risks and benefits of procedures you perform to educate your patients. These videos will reduce malpractice risks due
to misunderstandings. Think of creating
websites featuring your blogs and videos featuring your beliefs and interviews
with yourself. Think of incorporating
Skype interactions with patients unable to make
physical visits to your office, either because of their distance from
your practice or because they are bed-ridden or disabled.
redesign to attract and keep patients based on your empathy with their needs are worth considering and implementing.
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