Behind The Scenes of Design Thinking in Healthcare

A Quick Look At Three Stages of Design Thinking When Applied To The Healthcare Industry

Throughout many industries, we continue to face what is known as a human challenge. This problem persists even within the Healthcare industry. In designing new programs and systems, you need to maintain focus on the human being. In this definition of human beings, we aim to include the provider, healthcare administrator, and the public health official as well as the traditional patient.

In this discussion, we will apply this mindset to the analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on women’s mental health.

Definition & Process

Design thinking is composed of three parts. The customer wants desirability. Then we must determine if we can build it (feasibility) and then if it is profitable (viability). So often when we engineer a solution, we start with a group of engineers looking at feasibility first and miss the customer’s perspective achieved by first looking at the desirability of a solution.

Identifying the Problem

When it comes to design thinking, we must first leverage divergent thinking to look into a situation, reframe it, and then find insight within it. Let’s apply this lens to the first three months of a newborn baby’s life or the fourth trimester. During this time, a new mother loses a part of her identity as she sacrifices her own well-being to ensure the best care for her newborn baby. Often lost is attention to the mother’s mental health. We believe this is the perfect application of design thinking to find human-centered solutions.

Working Towards The Solution

Start by putting on your design thinking cap and focusing on a vision for a better way. Focus on the problem from the view of your user, the mother of a newborn, and begin to think of a way to solve the problem with solutions outside our normal approach.

So often teams use time as an excuse as to why they don’t engineer a solution with the human-centered, design thinking process. Eliminate the impediment of time by making this process essential and putting it into the schedule. Human-centered design is like exercise, it’s best done in smaller increments with many repetitions.

While working towards a solution, continue to keep the human being, by our definition, in mind. As you slow down and aim to understand how this person uses it in their daily life, you begin to better understand their perspective and meet reality rather than simply coming to your own judgments on how the system should act.

Final Thoughts

Make time and be sure to properly handle problems so they don’t evolve into other problems in the future. So often as a beginner we get lost in the process that it takes us too much time to come up with a solution. Instead, if you use this process well and continue to engineer solutions as a collective team, working towards innovation even in a difficult industry like healthcare becomes a simple reality.

Keep the goal of the patient or consumer in mind and you’ll continue to innovate products that are likely to serve your community well as well as remain desirable, feasible, and profitable.

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Educator + Entrepreneur who lives for the “aha!” moment. Co-Founder @theberkeleyinnovationgroup, @healthcarebydesign. Lecturer of Design Thinking @BerkeleyHaas.