These posts are written to summarize what I learned participating in Medecision’s annual meeting with the company’s partners, held March 27-29, 2018 at the Ritz-Carlton in Dallas, TX. – Jane
Part 2: Design to liberate healthcare
By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn
I concluded the first of this three-part series with Dr. Don Rucker’s belief that, “Patients are the massive use-case for interoperability.”
Deb Gage, Medecision CEO, also noted that for healthcare, “Transformational technology + consumer preference is powerful.”
But just as Amazon, Apple and Netflix understand that not all consumers are the same, healthcare, too, must recognize patients’ unique value propositions. And that requires baking user-centered design principles into healthcare.
Who better to learn from than a speaker who’s a board-certified physician, studied French and Physics at the Naval Academy, is a Zumba instructor, works closely with patients in the VA system, and studied at the Stanford University d (for design) school?
That would be the N of 1, Dr. Andrew Chacko, who addressed the Liberation 2018 meeting on the topic of designing a better healthcare experience.
Among Dr. Chacko’s many lessons was this, borrowed from an African proverb:
Akpa le tome gake menya tsi fe vevie nyenyeo.
A fish is the last to acknowledge the existence of water.
In healthcare, we are swimming in a lot of water, Dr. Chacko observed.
He described a recent scenario where he and a team were moving an obese bariatric patient out of surgery on a bedsheet onto the gurney. “Is this as good as we can do?” Dr. C. asked.
Another scenario found his colleague Linus in a maternity unit in Nepal, where he spotted some empty incubators meant for premature babies. It was a design challenge waiting to be solved: how to lessen the burden and tragedy of infant mortality in a cash-constrained environment? The solution led a team to re-think the workflow, really life-flow, of the people involved – moms and their babies – and led to the invention of a kind of “massaging papoose” into which was designed a pocket for a container of heated paraffin wax. That wax would first be heated in a pot of boiling water before being inserted into the bundle.
The cost of this invention? Low. The value? Off the charts. Dr. C calculated it to be about 200 times cheaper than the capital-intensive, high-tech incubator “solution.”
I made a point in my summary of this talk that, while the papoose solution with the high ROI was developed for a safety net situation, in the U.S., we are all in the safety net now – looking to deliver more healthcare at lower cost.
In practical terms, throughout Liberation 2018, many experts repeated the UX design mantra, “meet consumers where they are.” Some successful programs seeking greater patient engagement employ community care workers and peer supports in members’ communities. For Millennials, “meeting people where they are” can mean adopting the use of social media and text messaging. For others, working with faith-based communities and new community-based collaboratives with school nurses, grocery stores, and shared transportation modes like Lyft and Uber can help to meet people where they live, work, play, pray and learn. These tactics all help to address and mitigate the risks of social determinants of health that may be barriers to peoples’ full-on health engagement that underpins optimal outcomes.
Tan Le, founder of EMOTIV, put a fine point on this in her talk, which moved the audience to literal tears as she shared her experience as an immigrant from Vietnam traveling by boat to Australia with her family. [You can get a flavor for Tan Le’s talk here in her TED talk. Have the tissues ready].
She spoke of the need to embrace differences in ourselves, which is the core of an innovation mindset. “Think like an outsider,” Tan Le recommended. “Embrace the differences in ourselves,” and that “possibilities outside our comfort zones.”
By doing so, we will indeed recognize the water in which we swim, and acknowledge and design for the glorious diversity of the other fish we meet along our journeys.
Check out Part 1 of Jane’s three-part guest blog series here.
“Take 3” of this series, to publish April 26, will address the big learnings shared during Liberation 2018.
About the author
Jane Sarasohn-Kahn is a health economist, advisor and trend-weaver to organizations focused at the intersection of health, technology and people – especially consumers, patients and caregivers. She is the founder of THINK-Health and the Health Populi blog, and serves on the advisory boards of CanSurround, CAQH’s U.S. Health Efficiency Index, the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University, healthBank, Stupid Cancer, WEGO Health, and Women of Color in Pharma. In her community of Phoenixville, PA, Jane sits on the Board of The Clinic, a free clinic for residents. Jane is a frequent speaker, listed with AHA’s Speakers Express and Executive Speakers Bureau, as well as a contributor to the Huffington Post. Jane holds an MA (Economics) and MHSA (Health Policy) from University of Michigan.