In an age impacted—if not defined—by issues like COVID-19, good design has gone from enhancing connected healthcare (i.e. telehealth), to being an essential part of it.
When actually going to the doctor’s office is contraindicated, that’s more than disruption, it’s upheaval. In these unprecedented times, physicians and patients cope by turning more and more frequently to virtual interaction. Yet, though technology can be effective and efficient, without good design it lacks a vital component of healthcare: empathy.
Think of your last doctor’s visit. A frustrating wait in an unwelcoming room decorated with a couple of faded, plastic plants while cheesy canned music played over scratchy speakers. And that was before quarantine. Now, imagine patients with limited technical know-how, at home alone, trying to use apps that have all the appeal and warmth of a months-old fishing magazine, and the importance of good design and user experience (UX) becomes clear.
The healthcare space is a target-rich environment for design innovation and excellent UX due to its strong regulatory focus, engineering-driven approach, and risk averse philosophy that impacts product development. Whether intended for professionals or patients, connected devices should be engaging, effective, and user-friendly with an intuitive user interface (UI).
While patient wellbeing is at the heart of the matter, treatment regimens often fall well short of the results that extensive clinical trial promise. In the USA alone, the disconnect between prescribed behavior and actual patient behavior costs an estimated $100-$289 billion annually, with follow-on impacts adding another $230-$665 billion. [link] Meanwhile, inefficiencies and ambiguities in the design of information systems are partly implicated in harm to 400,000 hospitalized patients and in the deaths of approximately 100,000 people, resulting in economic losses of approximately $20 billion. [link]
This gulf between potential and actual outcomes is a crucial problem that good product design can help solve. Just as doctors start by identifying underlying causes when treating an ailment, designers and engineers must first find the “why” of their suboptimal design solution. Then, they must empathize with all end-users and stakeholders to isolate the root cause of the gaps between intentions and outcomes as defined in the current state of the problem/opportunity.
ROBRADY is driven by "design thinking" (empathy for the total context of the problem/opportunity using creativity to generate insights and solutions, and rationality to analyze and fit various solutions to the opportunity) as well as “lean thinking” (optimizing processes and unleashing human potential, value, and prosperity). This ability to synthesize optimized solutions in challenging environments complements the ubiquitous ”engineering thinking” (applying scientific principles to design and predict the behavior of structures, machines, and processes based on their intended function) that typically drives medical system design and product development. While this approach is indispensable when addressing improvements in the medical space, it cannot and should not be the sole consideration.
Good design begins and ends with “design thinking” and relies upon a comprehensive approach and optimized processes to bridge the gap between what is intended and what actually happens. The value of this philosophy, particularly when applied to opportunities in the medical space, is nearly incalculable in terms of both human health and return on investment.