Recap: DesignMeets… Voices of HealthCare

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How do you include the patient voice in all levels of health care? That’s what we tried to answer last week at DesignMeets… Voices of Healthcare, hosted by Pivot Design Group in partnership with Patients Canada at Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone.

Ian and Emily

Emily Nicholas of Patients Canada and Ian Chalmers of Pivot mc’d for the evening.

“They got everyone thinking about how to focus on the user from the outset of the design process.”

DMZKatie W. Robinette from Healthy Minds Canada — a non-profit centered on addiction and mental health — said that communication between doctors and patients is key. Healthy Minds Canada is developing online communities so patients can better understand their illness and treatment plan. This will give them the confidence to cogently express their feelings and concerns to their physician. (Watch the video)

Communication can come in many forms, Cynthia Damar-Schnobb (@schnobette) — an associate and design director at Entro — explains. She uses experiential graphic design to improve visual wayfinding in hospitals.

People need to be able to orient themselves to a space, but they also require visual cues to guide them. Since medical jargon is confusing, labeling should be done in layman’s terms. Better wayfinding not only helps patients and caregivers, but also increases staff efficiency and safety. (Watch the video)

Francie Kendal from the Apotex Jewish Home for the Aged said patients and their families also need help navigating through points of transition in the healthcare system.

Kendal is a team lead on Apotex’s Family Mentor Program (FMP), a program initiated to fill gaps in the facility’s admissions process. The FMP works to mitigate the anxiety that families feel when moving their loved ones into the long-term care centre. Kendal stresses that while the FMP was initiated from the top down, family members were integral to its development from the bottom up. (Watch the video)

DesignMeets... Voices of HealthCare Speakers

Frank Wang is the Project Lead in the Department of Diagnostic Imaging at SickKids and he knows the importance of getting program buy-in from the top down — even if said project is developed from the bottom up.

Keeping kids still in big, scary MRI machines is a major problem in pediatric diagnostic imaging. Usually, young children are put under general anesthesia, but this is costly, potentially harmful and extremely time-consuming; some kids need to wait six months to be scheduled in for the procedure. Wang says you can save time and money by redesigning the MRI into a fun and playful experience.

Some hospitals developed an immersive play environment and made their diagnostic imaging suites look like an amusement park to help calm the children prior to the procedure. The Philadelphia Children’s Hospital, for example, saw sedation rates decrease by 99 percent. (Watch the video)

“However, it’s not always easy to change standard operating procedures. While you can educate colleagues and build awareness around the necessity for change, sometimes you need to design for discomfort in order to innovate.”

Laura Mitchell’s young patients have a unique set of needs outside of their medical treatment. Mitchell is a clinical nurse specialist in the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Program at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. All of her patients are under 39 and many worry about fertility, diet and nutrition. Mitchell goes directly to her patients and surveys them about their individual concerns. She developed a multi-tiered program to ensure that all patients receive proper support throughout their treatment.  Now, she’s building an online community and peer-to-peer app for the AYA. (Watch the video)

While many are working tirelessly to bridge gaps in the health-care system, Jennifer Johannesen says that patients and caregivers still face enormous barriers. Johannesen is the author of No Ordinary Boy and Principal at Low to the Ground Consulting. She explains that patients and caregivers lack true autonomy when making decisions in our healthcare system; the autonomy we seem to have is just a veneer. In order to begin making change, patients and their families must educate themselves in order to claim “the autonomy that health care promises.” (Watch the video)

Tweets from the event

With these and many more varied perspectives on how and where to make improvements to the patient experience in HealthCare, stay tuned for our follow-up DesignMeets… Voice of HealthCare event.

We’ll continue the conversation on September 17. This time, we’ll go beyond the patient perspective to look at the various users within the circle of care. Help keep the discussion going by joining the DM LinkedIn group and find us in twitter @designmeets. And please, feel free to reach out to us at any time!

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Photos: DesignMeets on Flickr

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