Except for calling the fax machine obsolete (kidding, see below), Tim Brown of IDEO gets this one exactly right. Design thinking will be an important part of ridding waste from our health care system in the short term (that 30 percent figure we continue to hear about). Ten years on (if I have my way, more like five…or three), it will be the strategy for value creation (sorry for the management speak, but damn we need more value) as health care delivery is forced to change its ways.
The Kaiser nursing example is but one opportunity. It’s a very important story to share in our health care worlds. This is where Tim’s idea of design being too important to be left to designers comes in. Opportunities like this one, many smaller and many larger, exist everywhere in hospitals. What we need to figure out is how to bring design thinking to the trenches of health care. To the places where the providers and workers are busy, tired, and frustrated with limited patience for the next management fad (believe me, design thinking is dangerously close to being just that). Two limitations to consider affordability (not everyone can afford or will want to afford IDEO’s talent) and accessibility (training, training, training). A supportive administration is needed, but a handed down dictatorial philosophy will fail.
Given the intricacies of health care, this movement will have its greatest success if framed as some sort of manufacturing improvement/design thinking/something-thought-up-in-health-care-because-we-think-we’re-different-from-everyone-else-strategy trifecta approach. That way we can show how it will improve efficiency (lean thinking, etc.), use design thinking to motivate the changers, and provide appeasement for those who need it.
Wow, this post turned into a diatribe. Also, Tim Brown has a new book about this. We should all start reading.