Thoughts on Inclusive Design

Stakeholder engagement, ensuring that you consult your end-users and user buy-in are key elements in any project which involves a change in process, a change in service design and an overhaul of how things are. There are a few facets of design and technology that I want to touch upon today but I have been thinking more and more what it means to have a service experience that works.

Digital transformation - this terminology in healthcare is rife and its almost becoming a cliche. Every. single. slidedeck. talks. about. digital. transformation. Heck, even I was talking about the phrase ‘digital transformation’ but really, does anyone have any remote idea of what the heck it means? Far too often it seems that organisations want to overhaul legacy systems and move to new ways of working. In the hospital system, we are rather prehistoric. Consider government funding (hence every dollar needs to be accounted for) and health is an extremely risk averse industry - we don’t like to do things unless it is proven to work 200% of the time. But the more I think about about digital transformation in the industries, it really isn’t about overhauling the systems and becoming an organisation that is just at the far end of technology, where everything is digitised and you have a super cool gadgety hospital that has glass ceilings and touch pads for every single thing (would look cool though). But in health, it isn’t really so much about the overhaul but rather, augmenting the digital technologies to what the objective of the healthcare system is about - care of people when they’re ill. So fundamentally, there needs to be a human element in the design of our services to ensure that ‘digital transformation’ isn’t simply leading the organisation down a rabbit hole of gadgets everywhere, but a transformation of the service experience for patients.

For example, if patient referrals still largely come through by paper - of course there is an efficiency gain there somewhere. Maybe we can create a back-end system where referrals are centralised and accessible by all staff to use and we can facilitate behaviour change from our service providers and patients by giving avenues and portals for them to use to file pre-admission paperwork and referrals. But herein lies the empathy side of service design, one cannot simply move a process over to a digital platform overnight without considering the population that will still simply want to use paper… and also, healthcare is an industry that thrives on the human to human contact. I think there is a point where you no longer just want a machine interface, but want to talk to a human being. Perhaps there is scope to augment digital transformations and look at ways to improve the customer experience… and therefore, you get a more complete experience that is empowering and fit for purpose…..

Ramble over.