Human Centred Design (HCD) is an alternative approach to creating products, services and experiences. At the heart of this methodology is the user and the need to design a product or process that truly meets their specific demands. 

HCD within healthcare was one of the topics featured in a recent webinar we hosted that also looked at the urgent challenge of digital exclusion both during and post-COVID. 

HCD in healthcare webinar


How Human-Centred Design Is Changing Healthcare

This webinar featured the following panel of experts:

  • Matt Edgar - Associate Director of Design & User Research, NHS Digital
  • Roz Davies - Managing Director, mHabitat
  • Emma Stone - Director of Design, Research and Communications, Good Things Foundation
  • Claudia Pagliari - Director of Global eHealth, The University of Edinburgh
  • Reynhardt Uys - Group Chief Experience Officer, Immersion Group
  • Mark Lomax - CEO, PEP Health

Reynhardt Uys provided insight into HCD and why it is so important that healthcare technology providers pivot to this way of thinking. He suggested we need to understand the world is filled with products and services that people simply do not like. They are often complex, difficult to use and antagonise the very people they are supposed to help. 

This creates cost in the system. Money is wasted because intended outcomes are not met meaning maintenance, system rebuilds or entire refunds are needed. By missing the needs of the audience for who the product or experience was created, both the user and creator are losing out. 

These products miss the mark because they are not relevant, they are too difficult to use or they offer no emotional appeal to the user. The lack of a holistic experience is often where creators make mistakes. Consider a visit to a restaurant - yes, the food is important but so is the service, atmosphere, company and even the travel to and from the restaurant. It takes all the components of the ecosystem to bring the right system to the consumer. 

Traditionally, design involved an ‘inside-out’ approach. It was guided by the technology, product, process, management or scorecard. Rather than designing with the user in mind, this approach tries to take organisational context and impose it on the end-user - often, with limited success. 

As Reynhardt Uys points out, the design team is never the user. The only way to insert user context into the design process is by driving empathy. It takes the design team stepping outside of their usual norms to understand the context of users. This is something that needs to happen at scale so everyone is on the same page. 

So, what is the importance of HCD within healthcare?

HCD, as opposed to traditional design, is done with an ‘outside-in’ approach. This is crucial within healthcare because the aim should always be the improvement of patient satisfaction and experiences. 

By empathising with both patients and clinicians, a design team can better understand the specific needs of this ecosystem and create a product or service that truly solves their pain points. 

Patient surveys and comments are vital to the success of HCD. During the webinar, Mark Lomax spoke about the work he has done to collate patient feedback. Although at times it is a slow process, the results offer unique insight into what patients really think about their care. 

Only when this information has been gathered can design teams begin to draw up ideas that meet the needs of patients and hospital staff. Following an extensive ideation and prototyping process, products are ready for testing. This process of trial and error can seem inefficient but the result is better products. 

The next part of HCD is testing. At this point, it is important to get as much feedback as possible. Speak to patients, parents, staff members - basically every stakeholder to understand the different needs of each group. 

Reynhardt Uys also highlighted an example of successful HCD within a hospital. It involved an MRI machine that was used with paediatrics. The MRI machine was scaring the children who needed to have a scan and causing problems for staff. 

The result? We recommend watching the webinar to see the amazing transformation that took place to ensure the MRI machine was a far happier place for children to be. 

In addition to the discussion on HCD, the webinar focused on digital exclusion which is more important than ever with virtual consultations and other adaptations that have taken place as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

It was packed with useful insight from industry experts, so we definitely suggest setting aside an hour to see what the panellists had to say. To watch 'Human-Centred Design and Digital Exclusion', click the link below. 

Stream now!

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