Two years ago, I had the privilege of engaging on system redesign project for a large hospital system. Because we led with the UCX process and a Human-Centered Design mindset, we started with interviews. I spent two weeks talking with doctors, nurses, patients, clinicians, data analysts, and administrators— over 150 wonderful people who detailed immense frustration and the resulting anxiety as they endeavored to provide or receive healthcare.
This project scared me. Their systems and processes were a mess. You know how most of us joke that if we make a mistake at our job, it’s not “a life or death” problem? Well, my interviewees went into great detail about how in this case, it is that dire.
I was hired to improve systems that were created in a vacuum. The healthcare providers had never been asked what they needed to do their job. The patients I spoke with complimented the individual care-givers but expressed deep concern and frustration about everything from the “computer systems” to the data collection and intake processes.
During this project, we directly experienced a healthcare crisis in my family. My 87 year old father-in-law was hospitalized for unknown blood loss. This hospital’s systems and processes were in such disarray that he lost kidney function and almost died. It was all about the contraindicated medication and lack of communication between specialists. Luckily, my sister-in-law is a Nurse Practitioner and between her resolve and my husband’s input, Papi survived and is at home. But without that close, explicit knowledge and advocacy- what would have happened?
My project’s imperative was to “significantly improve access to tools and systems that care givers need as they work to provide life-saving services.” Over the course of 6 months, my team was able to accomplish parts of this mission. As the project came to a close, I wrote a recommendations roadmap that outlined a 5 year plan to exceptional patient care. The roadmap focused on redesigning their processes and systems from a human-centered point-of-view and mapped directly to the significant time, money and life-saving benefits of this effort (ROI is important).
I am happy to report that the hospital created a Human-Centered Design. I had the lovely experience of training their staff on UCX and creating their mobile usability lab. Currently in year three of the roadmap, the team reports progress in many areas and patient/customer ratings have improved by 80%.