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CHXD Aims to Reimagine The Healthcare Experience with Design Thinking

Only 4 months after its launch, Mad*Pow’s Center for Health Experience Design has big plans to reimagine the patient and clinician experience through human-centered design. We sat down with Amy Cueva, Mad*Pow’s Chief Experience Officer, to discuss the center’s objectives, future plans and new clients.

When we last spoke in April, Mad*Pow had just announced the launch of the Center for Health Experience Design. What can you tell us about your first few months up and running?

The mission of the Center for Health Experience Design (CHXD) is to improve health experiences and manifests itself through two aims. First, it serves as a design and experiential innovation resource to the industry by providing training, insights, tools, coaching, workshop facilitation, and on-call experts to help organizations weave design thinking and human-centered design into their innovation practice to achieve better results. Second, it acts as a catalyst for collaboration and shared action; uniting organizations across the health ecosystem who have shared interests so that they may learn from each other and work on projects that will involve building a comprehensive understanding of the problem space, exploring opportunities that exist, and creating a shared vision for the future possibilities.

We have made progress on both aims in the first few months of operation. On the resource front, we have organized the first quarterly training event for both CHXD Members and the greater design and innovation community. The topic is participatory design – how to facilitate co-creation sessions with clinicians, patients, and their families to identify unmet needs, opportunities, and begin to detail potential solutions. The participatory design sessions that our team has facilitated in the past have been truly inspirational and the quality of the output was astounding! They are a must have in the innovation toolbox.  The training event will be held August 8th, 9:00-5:00 at District Hall in Boston and registration is still open. As relationships and conversations are the conduit for partnerships and greater affinity, there will be a networking event for design and innovation professionals after the training, which will be 5:30-7:30 in the Harbor Room at Del Frisco’s Steak House. Registration is required to attend the networking event.

On the catalyst front, we are in the process of forming affinity groups around 10 specific areas of interest. Affinity groups will be made up of individuals and organizations from the payer, provider, life sciences, government, health tech, and non-profit realms. These groups will work together to move the industry forward through a shared contribution and shared value model. Participants will have opportunities to share insights and trends, have a team to bounce ideas off of and solicit support from, and work on both research projects and design and innovation initiatives that express a collective vision for the future. The interest areas are:

  • Creating a Culture of Health: Exploring how employers, educational institutions, government, and corporations can contribute to fostering a culture of health in our workplaces, schools, communities, and the public consciousness.
  • Preventing, Managing, and Reversing Chronic Health Conditions: Answering the call for helping the populations we serve achieve better health by setting our sights on objectives greater than what is presently measured and exploring non-traditional methods for doing so.
  • Patient Experience of the Future: Exploring how patients will interact with the health system in the future, including people, facilities, services, and technologies, how they will receive care, and how they will manage their health.
  • Navigating the Health System: Supporting the consumer and patient journey for finding and receiving the best care, making treatment decisions, communicating with health professionals and organizations, addressing the logistics and administrative aspect of health, understanding insurance, and managing health finances.
  • Improving Clinician Experiences: Clinicians are bearing the burden of an increased administrative load to the point where burnout is on the rise and some are even leaving the profession. Positive clinician experiences are essential for delivering positive patient and family experiences. This area focuses on how we can design technologies, workflows, and policies that support clinician objectives and enhance connection and relationship.
  • Innovation Culture: Identifying insights and methods for designing innovation teams to overcome obstacles and lead their organization toward a culture of innovation and ongoing improvement.
  • Designing for Underserved and Vulnerable Populations: Exploring how smart phone proliferation has provided internet access to populations who have previously not had it and how we can effectively engage people both online and offline to positively affect health literacy, access, and outcomes.
  • Designing for the Aging Population: Exploring opportunities to engage the aging population in managing their health and receiving the best care possible, supporting caregivers, and facilitating positive end of life conversations.
  • Designing for Mental Health, Addiction Prevention and Recovery: Working to understand how we can work together to reduce the stigma associated with mental health and addiction and provide programs and tools which improve access, involve social support, and leverage artificial intelligence to enable innovative treatment experiences and deliver better outcomes.
  • Innovating Adherence, Clinical Trials, and Medication Management: Exploring how to effectively engage patients in understanding of their medications and companion digital therapies, making their clinical trial experiences more seamless and meaningful, and helping them to achieve the best outcomes possible.

The CHXD is in the process of identifying two projects from these areas and will have them launched by the end of the year. Parties who are interested in the affinity groups should reach out to amy at centerhxd dot com to indicate their interest.

The “A Bill you Can Understand” Design and Innovation Challenge is a good example of how collaboration across organizations can work to stimulate innovation industry wide. This challenge, focusing on redesigning medical bills and transforming the process, is a collaboration between the US Department of Health & Human Services, Mad*Pow, AARP, Providence Health Services, MetroHealth, Cambia Health Solutions, Geisinger, Integris, and University of Utah Health Care. Over 500 teams have indicated an interest and final submissions are due August 20th; challenge winners will be announced at the annual Health 2.0 conference September 25th-28th. Other Mad*Pow projects that share the industry betterment objective and helped to fuel the creation of the Center for Health Experience Design include The Designers Oath and the Patient Translations project.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital and MIT’s Hacking Medicine were your first two member organizations.  What exciting projects are you working on with them?

The CHXD has collaborated with Brigham & Women’s iHub team to support the Stepping Strong Clinical Innovation Series in Trauma effort. This effort is a way for the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund to support entrepreneurial and technology-based innovation in trauma care. Through this series, teams consisting of BWH clinicians and scientists, and external designers, engineers and entrepreneurs, will explore challenges in trauma care and develop solutions to those challenges over the course of six months. The CHXD provided researchers, strategists, and designers to facilitate working sessions and contribute to solutions work streams.

MIT Hacking Medicine led by Zen Chu has been working with health organizations in Boston to inject the best and brightest minds in engineering and science to support innovation through hackathons, thought leadership, and other initiatives. The CHXD is working with the MIT Hacking Medicine team to provide experience strategy and design resources to support their initiatives including the new MIT Hacking Medicine institute which will explore which digital health solutions are most effective.

The CHXD will be lending design leadership, consultative support, and design resources to upcoming innovation events including the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network Hackathon and other events at educational institutions.

Have you signed on any new clients since you launched?

We are excited to announce that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has joined the Center for Health Experience Design just this month. Robin Glasco, Vice President of Innovation, will be joining Lesley Solomon of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Zen Chu of MIT Hacking Medicine on the CHXD advisory board. BCBS MA has always been a leader in innovation and we are looking forward to collaborating with them to continue that commitment. Other organizations have indicated their interest in joining the Center and we should have some exciting announcements to share there in the coming months.

We are now working on creating membership options for individuals such that they will have the opportunity to engage with CHXD, contributing to affinity groups and projects, and getting access to training and resources. Individual membership options will be announced soon.

As you know, many physicians lament how poorly designed their EHRs are. Does the CHXD have plans to address this problem? How do you see design being leveraged to improve these systems?

EHRs provide benefits to both patients and clinicians in terms of improved access to data and this has led to improvements in quality and outcomes. However, the integration of EHRs into clinical workflow has left much to be desired. Clinicians are facing increasing levels of administrative burden, new tasks, and workflow adjustments – all of which have lead to less face time with patients and fundamentally changing the nature of their work. These factors are contributing to an uptick in clinical stress and burnout. EHRs started as a database with an interface and were designed by companies born out of an engineering focus and under the direction of a select few clinicians. There were little to no designers involved in the creation of most EHRs; a human-centered design process was not followed, and optimizing clinical workflow and providing for ease of use was not a focus in the rush to market. Although EHRs began as a database for health information, they are now often expected to serve as the digital backbone for both clinician and patient experiences and they will have to evolve in order to effectively meet the charge. The CHXD has established the “Improving Clinician Experiences” affinity group, which will focus on building a comprehensive understanding of this problem and lead the industry forward by envisioning potential solutions.

What are other parts of the healthcare system that you think are most in need of being improved through design?

We need to improve the experiences that patients, families, and clinicians have with the health system by leveraging emerging technology and the latest research while also being fueled by a deep understanding of the needs and desires of the people we serve. Human-centered design provides us with the vehicle for designing WITH people (which happens to be the focus of the first CHXD training session) to deliver solutions that provide meaning and value in the context of their real lives. There are so many points of pain and frustration that need to be eased and so many opportunities to be explored. In many ways the health industry is behind in terms of its delivery on consumer expectations and leveraging modern approaches to service and experience. This is what the Patient Experience of the Future and Navigating the Health System affinity groups will be exploring. But the health industry is also leading the charge in terms of integrating empathy and understanding into our work, relentlessly looking for opportunities to innovate, and looking to build a solid relationship with the populations we serve, built on improved connection and relationships. Being that our nation is getting sicker and sicker due to the American lifestyle – such as sedentary behavior, chronic stress, and the standard American diet (SAD) – we have a large task in front of us. The CHXD affinity groups focused on Creating a Culture of Health and Preventing, Managing, and Reversing Chronic Health Conditions will look to unite organizations dedicated to overcoming these challenges and create a lighthouse in the industry that educates, inspires, and gives us something to collaboratively work toward.

Abigail Ballou

Abigail Ballou

    Abby Ballou is the managing editor of MedTech Boston. She has a B.A. and M.Phil in English literature from NYU and the CUNY Graduate Center, respectively. When she isn't writing and editing for MedTech Boston, Abby enjoys reading, rock climbing, watching classic movies and listening to opera.

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