Prologue: I've been digesting all the intellectual and emotional morsels from Medicine X for about a week now. I've written, discarded and re-written this post several times. There are several well thought recaps online. It doesn't make sense for me to try and create one of my own. There are also videos of the entire program on the Medicine X site, so I don't need to summarize all of the talks. And, thankfully, there tweets galore which tell the behind-the-scenes stories and offer colorful commentary. No, for me this post is about one thing...one theme which I cannot (nor do I want to) shake: Patient Designed Care. I'm pretty sure that term was newly minted at Medicine X and I'm tingling with the promise it is a trend just on the verge of taking off. There is so much potential energy in the idea of patient designed care and this year's Medicine X was the kinetic kick to inspired many to fan the flame.
I'm looking forward to the next few weeks and months. This is going to be big!
“I think are just made to work this way…” The smile crept up on M.A. Malone. “…this is how people are supposed to be.” She wasn’t referring to being surround by post-it notes. M.A. was feeling the vibe of Medicine X.
Healthcare is inherently about humans. It is, at its raw core, people talking care of people. And that should feel good. As M.A. would say, it’s how people are supposed to be. And yet, we find ourselves in a world where healthcare is often about everything other than the people on the giving and receiving end.
Speakers like Michael Graves do not see an impervious membrane between a patient-friendly world and the current state of healthcare. In fact, he sees opportunity. During his talk he set a tone for the next two days —one of human-centered design in healthcare.
Wonder [Triplet] powers, activate!
On Saturday evening, IDEO’s Dennis Boyle, Massive Health’s Aza Raskin and ExperiaHealth’s Kim Petty each took the stage to discuss design thinking. When Dennis Boyle talks about design, he says we have to consider what is viable, feasible, and most importantly, desirable. Desirability is the human component —what do people want an experience to be like?
Big-thinker, particle physicist and designer Aza Raskin echoed similar themes when we spoke about designing support systems for those with chronic conditions.
Kim Petty made no qualms about it, healthcare is about people first. How caregivers feel, how patients feel, how the spaces, terms and tools make us feel…that’s what matters. Design for experience, and the rest will follow.
The importance of design
Before the conference officially started, select attendees were given the opportunity of a lifetime. They were embedded in renowned design firm IDEO to experience a design challenge. The group of fifty or so conference goers was divided into teams. Each team centered around one of the Medicine X ePatient scholars. Through the day, the IDEO team introduced participants to their process, starting with their philosophy.
“We’re not experts in anything,” they extoll, “we just have a process and it always works.”
IDEO starts with interviewing end users of a thing or process. Groups listened intently to the stories of the ePatient scholars in their group. What challenges do they face with healthcare? What is their biggest burden? What workarounds have they created?
Next comes the problem statement. How might we….
* make accessing your records easier?
* avoid preventable harm?
* make it easier to get in and out of a chair?
* educate children on a parent’s medical needs
* feel better about an industry which purports healing and human life
For hours, each group immersed themselves in ideas, or ideating as IDEO calls it. It was a blizzard of post-it notes.
IDEO designers continued by taking participants through the brainstorming phase. Just like improve, the number one rule of brainstorming is never say no. There are no bad ideas, in fact, you should encourage the zany ones. Just keep ’em coming.
An important part of any innovation process is rapid iteration. Groups prototyped the designs which resulted from their brainstorming. Let’s practice this interaction with a doctor. How would this device look and feel? What should this website look like?
Quick, grab the hot glue gun and let’s make this thing!
IDEO experts taught the groups about the importance of storytelling. This is your design and innovation, you have to sell it to others. How is the world better with this new thing? What problem does it solve? Groups presented their design in the form of skits, mockups and storyboards.
And that’s when the magic happened
As the day at IDEO, itself a precursor to the main event at Medicine X, came to a close, designers, participants and patient scholars reflected. Unlike other group events, these MedX’ers were emboldened by a day of creative energy; of working how people are supposed to work. One after another, the emotions came pouring out.
Thank you for showing me what the future can be like
Thank you for giving us this day
Thank you for creating a day when no one said no
The impact of the day was not lost on IDEO’s team. Designers, each and every one, had that kind of infectious smile which comes from deep within the soul. It was the kind of smile which suggests we did something special today, magic happened here…
“We hear a lot about patient-centered care…” one designer started, “but that’s kind of a hollow phrase. What we discovered today was something new. Patient designed care”
If that new term was born that day, it could have just as well been celebrating an elder birthday among it’s close friends. It was as at home in that space, among patients and newly-minted designers as ones own pulse. And so too it took root as a theme, a heartbeat itself, through Medicine X 2012. Nothing about me without me. Let’s talk about what can be. How might we incorporate patients to create …. patient designed care.
Medicine X 2012 Reading List (missing yours? Leave it in the comments and I'll update this list)