I think there’s a hybrid model to improving the patient’s experience that consists of two basic tenets 1) involving the patient (the focus of this post) and 2) ignoring the patient. Both are important in their own right.
Asking patients for their input improves the experience at an incremental level (most often), their worldview limits what’s possible. Don Norman explains why in his latest essay, “design research (ed: asking the patient) is great when it comes to improving existing product categories but essentially useless when it comes to new, innovative breakthroughs.”
Mary Tripsas wrote a recent column for The New York Times about 3M’s customers innovation centers, a useful idea to better understand the patient’s needs. The basic idea is to bring together the customer (read: their needs, problems, objectives) and the company’s technology (read: potential products).
Innovation centers are in healthcare now. There’s Mayo’s SPARC, Kaiser’s Garfield Center, Memorial South Bend’s Innovation Cafe, and the spoken-of but not-yet-seen Allina Center for Healthcare Innovation. There should be more.
It doesn’t require an elaborate facility or enormous investment. Heck, just start with the unused patient room in the old facility. Or do it virtually: conduct research and experiments on floors in operation (a controlled environment).
What’s the value proposition? An innovation center provides focus because it is structured around the patient. From the NYT article:
The terms “customer driven” and “solutions” seem to be in every manager’s lexicon. But as Professor (Ranjay) Gulati notes, “it’s an execution problem.” Companies, he says, “aren’t generally structured to access, absorb or utilize customer insights since they are organized by product, not by customer.”