The number one rule to follow when you work in a healthcare setting such as hospitals, physicians’ offices, etc. is to have empathy for the people; both the patients and your colleagues. Healthcare facilities provide various services that ultimately impact patients. Therefore, these patient services need to be created and delivered with high quality. Every member of a healthcare organization plays a vital part in contributing to that high quality service whether they interact directly with the patient or they provide supporting services to those who do. In fact, those who do not directly interact with patients affect patient care in other ways such as providing a working facility, producing meals for the patients, researching ways to improve the quality of patient care, providing the IT infrastructure, and many others. In this post, I am going to focus on those within a hospital's IT team.
The IT team in a hospital is responsible for a myriad of systems and applications that support a variety of departments in the organization. The technical solutions that come out of this group must follow the rule of having empathy for the people and must be part of the overall patient care solution. You will need to be a service provider in addition to creating technical solutions. The end goal is to deliver excellent patient care and you can achieve that through the perspective of a service designer.
There are many service design frameworks, but one of them is called the Double Diamond which was developed by the Design Council UK. It consists of the following four stages: Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver.
What is the problem?
The first point of the Double Diamond is where you capture what is the initial problem that you are looking to solve. You will create a problem statement that clearly states the issue and offer insight to a potential solution.
You will then move into the Discover phase where your aim is to research and collect enough information to help you paint a detailed picture of the problem. This would include understanding people's attitudes about the problem.
- What are their concerns and pain points?
- How do they envision solving the problem?
- How does the problem affect healthcare workers who directly interact with patients?
- How does the problem affect healthcare workers who do not directly interact with patients?
- What system(s) are involved with this problem?
- What processes are related to this problem?
After you have completed the Discover phase, you will need to analyze all of the information and identify relationships in the Define phase. The goal of this phase is to look for opportunities where you can create action steps towards a solution. Once you have completed this, go back to your initial problem statement and refine it based on your research and your proposed solution.
- Are there any patterns to the problem?
- What is relevant to solving the problem?
- What decisions will need to take place for producing a solution?
You can then move on to the Develop phase where you actually build your proposed solution. You start by connecting the dots to all the parts needed to build the solution which includes the people, the processes, technologies, and other resources. This is where you will put your project management skills to work in producing the building blocks that are needed for your solution.
- How do you connect all the dots in creating your solution?
- What needs to happen first, second, third, etc.?
- Who are all the players needed to help build your solution?
- Do existing processes need to be evolved to support your solution?
- What are all the current and possible project constraints?
- Will educational training be needed for your solution?
The final point of the Double Diamond is the Deliver phase which is the go-live implementation of your solution. Your hope is to ultimately deliver a value-added solution to both the patients and to all those involved in the process of delivering excellent patient care. It is also important that it completely solves the problem!
Throughout your project’s journey when using the Double Diamond framework, it is important to keep all the stakeholders involved and encourage continuous feedback from them. Their feedback will be helpful to you in making iterative changes that improve your solution. At the end of the day, when you are looking to create solutions in healthcare, design them from the perspective of those who will receive its value: the patients.