|Service design involves organizing the people, infrastructure and communication components of a service in an effort to improve both its quality and the interaction between service provider and customer. In other words, it’s about finding out what the customer wants in order to create a better customer experience.After all, who doesn’t want to improve their customer care? According to Oracle® Corporation’s Customer Experience Impact Report, 86 percent of consumers would pay more for a better experience. And 89 percent will jump ship and try a competitor after a negative customer interaction.If you’re looking for ways to create better, more customized experiences in your healthcare facility, you may want to consider applying design thinking for healthcare, also known as “design for care.”Design for care|
Are you ready to go beyond simply providing a service by creating a patient-focused experience? Here are four simple tips to help improve the patient experience.
- Conduct your research: Perhaps one of the most important things you can do when applying design for care is ask for patient feedback in an effort to understand their needs. Then, listen and learn. Conduct patient observations and family interviews to find out who your patients are, what they want and what you can do to enhance their experiences. Making these things happen creates happier customers and differentiates your organization from the rest. Show gratitude to those who participate with a small gift, like a Health and Wellness Kit or an Eyeglass Tool with Cleaning Cloth.
- Makeover your spaces: Many hospital and exam rooms give off a cold and sterile vibe that can make patients feel uncomfortable and anxious at best. As a consequence, the necessary communication and collaboration between patient and physician can suffer. The Mayo Clinic, a leading medical-care provider, resolved this problem by simply separating the exam space from the communication space. The separate areas are called Jack and Jill rooms, and they have seen benefits across the practice since their implementation, including improved information sharing with patients and their family members, simplified physical exam processes, and increased collaboration between patient and physician. And this idea isn’t just for hospitals—clinics, dental practices and more can apply this same concept.
- Quiet the senses: Noise and lighting are other chief grievances among patients requiring hospital stays. If private rooms and sound-proof ceiling tiles aren’t in the budget, try offering a snooze kit, complete with ear plugs and a sleep mask. You can also cut down on noise by offering ear buds to patients who are watching television or listening to music. These ideas can be applied to a variety of practices and procedures. Think of quieting those noisy waiting rooms or providing a relaxing atmosphere for patients in the chair during a lengthy orthodontic procedure.
- Balance the power: Another common complaint about the patient experience is that there’s an imbalance of power. In many cases, a patient sits barefoot, in an oversized gown, on an exam room table waiting for a physician who he or she may have never met. This practice can make patients feel uneasy and can consequently cause patients to rush through the visit. Couple that with the fact that doctors are tasked with communicating complex medical information to patients who may have limited medical knowledge and the imbalance of power becomes apparent.
Healthcare professionals can curb this imbalance by taking the time to meet with patients first and answer questions before performing an exam. Medical information and knowledge should also be disclosed in plain language that’s easy for anyone to understand. Send patients on their way with a summary of the day’s visit plus any after-care instructions. Include a Magnet Clip and business card imprinted with important contact information in case questions arise post-visit.
Design for care is all about creating a positive, customized and patient-focused experience. For more information on service design, check out our Blue Papers®.
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Weeks, Carly. “Better by design: How a hospital room can help patients heal.” The Globe and Mail. N.p., 21 Feb. 2014. Web. Retrieved 18 Apr. 2014.
“Enhancing the impact of participatory design in health care improvement: the extreme case of patients with rare genetic diseases.” Service Design Research. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 18 Apr. 2014.