When we think of healthcare, we think of doctors, nurses, surgeons, radiologists, and anesthesiologists—the people who run the show, treat diseases, and save lives.
But we overlook a large group of people who make them successful at saving lives —claims specialists, medical coders, case managers, health-services managers, and others who run behind the scenes to bring positive health outcomes.
Over the last decade, the healthcare industry has also started including data scientists, researchers, and quality officers to improve healthcare services.
Yet, there’s a gap in how people receive healthcare services. From longer queues in the hospital to broken interactions between healthcare applications and its users, the quality of patient experience is still not what it should be.
To fill this gap, we need problem solvers.
Those who can research, find problems, and ask questions to uncover gaps in the existing processes. In short, people who are inquisitive and who communicate well.
In short- we need designers.
And we need them now, more than ever.
The reason is the new shift in how people receive healthcare services in the pandemic-stricken world. With telemedicine services booming, doctors are now just a video-call away. But even if virtual is the new reality, it comes with a fair share of challenges.
Let’s take a look at some unique healthcare problems and how designers can solve them.
Preventing and reducing errors
Healthcare is a complex domain.
It’s complex because of the diversity of tasks involved in the delivery of patient care. From patient admission to treatment, from insurance settlement to patient discharge, every step requires use of different tools, applications and security guidelines. A small mistake can cause a ripple effect and spread mayhem at different levels.
That said, no system in the world is error proof.
Therefore, healthcare (or any other system) can be made better by preventing these errors from happening. Designers are better equipped to help solve such problems.
For instance- consider a healthcare application that helps users keep a track of overall health and wellness. To access this application, users need to fill in a lot of personal details like phone number, email id, insurance id, and so on.
Designers understand that to err is human. They also understand that not everyone is digitally literate, especially those who are using the application for the first time. So they preempt the mistakes that users can make and create interactions that can prevent them from making that mistake. For example- highlighting the error message in red color. They also create interactions for recovering from errors.
For digital healthcare to be efficient, we need to design interfaces that are forgiving and embracing.
Solving problems through design research
With new challenges in our pandemic-stricken world, we need a research-oriented approach to understand and uncover gaps in healthcare. Designers, with their creativity and problem-solving skills, can bring healthcare consumers and providers closer.
A few questions that design can help answer are:
- What can we do to generate better patient engagement, especially for those who have accessibility issues?
- How can we combine digital and physical touchpoints in healthcare?
- What can we do to improve doctor-patient relationships in the virtual world?
- How can we use design to reduce administrative tasks of doctors and healthcare workers?
Engaging patients meaningfully
Digital healthcare in the post-pandemic world can only flourish if it’s engaging, efficient, and seamless. That’s because people are used to in-person care and attention from nurses, hospital staff, and doctors. We need to translate this experience so that the personal connection and intimate care isn’t lost in digital interactions.
For instance, how can we engage with a person who has undergone a liver transplant and is discharged with care instructions to follow at home? How do we ensure that the caregivers and patient understand and follow a diet that supports speedy recovery? What kind of experience can we design that will make the patient want to adhere and sustain their new lifestyle?
This is a problem that designers can tackle, armed with their creative acumen. By designing interfaces that create meaningful interactions, designers can educate and motivate patients to be active participants in healing their illnesses. With the right nudges at the right time, they can guide patients towards creating better health outcomes.
Design is not an answer to every healthcare problem. But design is definitely an answer to making healthcare more inclusive, accessible, and efficient.
Designers have an innate ability to come up with creative solutions to complex problems. Good designers who are empathetic and creative can solve a lot of healthcare problems with their critical-thinking skills and design-thinking mindset. The reason why we need designers now more than ever is so that we can use skills from their arsenal to get the “what”, “why”, and “how” of the most pressing healthcare problems of the post-pandemic world.