Over the last few months I’ve very much enjoyed being an associate at design company, Uscreates. Last week we joined forces to explore the future of private healthcare with a range of CEO’s, clinicians, change-makers, strategists and designers. A room filled with creative, strategic and medical expertise: we had a great discussion about where the industry is headed and what it needs to do over the coming years to meet patient demand and expectations as well as fulfil a meaningful purpose, beyond excellent healthcare provision.
To get the discussion going, I presented seven ways the industry is rapidly changing. In this blog series I’ll go into more detail on each:
#1. Informed patients - in a data driven world
#2. Real-time care - in a world where information is immediately accessible
#3. Peer-to-peer exchange – in a world where sharing is the norm
#4. Rate & review – in world where there’s nowhere to hide
#5. Prevention – in a world where knowledge is king
#6. Hyper-convenience – in world where same-day delivery is the norm
#7. A new business as usual – in world where purpose drives profit
The first two areas of change are data and information based and are transforming the way people manage their wellbeing and the way professionals provide care.
#1. Informed patients - in a data driven world
According to Deloitte’s Connected Health report (2015) the number of health apps has more than doubled in 2.5yrs to over 100,000. With hundreds of thousands of apps and devices to choose from, patients will be armed with more and more data about their health, diet, exercise patterns and general wellbeing.
PSFK’s Future of Health is a catalogue of apps and platforms that convert health data to meaningful information. To name a few:
Kinsa, an oral thermometer that connects to the user’s smartphone, captures the user’s temperature and maps it with other recorded symptoms and illnesses nearby. It reports back a local ‘health weather’ to track the origin or likelihood of sickness. Users are able to create local groups and share data. Kinsa is interesting in that it uses personal data to provide both personal feedback and aggregated anonymous feedback for the greater good.
Airo, one of many health and wellness wristbands, captures a range of data including exercise, stress, eating habits and quality of sleep. By detecting nutrients released into the bloodstream, it is even able to “automatically track both the calories you consume and the quality of your meals.”
And US pharmacy chain Walgreens enable their customers to participate in an online and mobile community support platform called ‘Steps’. It rewards physical activity with points towards Walgreens purchases. But Walgreens have opted to integrate with existing apps rather than compete with them – Steps is available via a range of third-party apps like Runkeeper, WebMD and Google Fit. This gives Walgreens more reach and their customers more choice.
The private healthcare sector needs to work out how it can integrate and use all this information. Patients are already walking into appointments with 2 years’ worth of pedometer data.
How can healthcare professionals play data back to patients in a meaningful, constructive way?
How can this data better inform treatment and improve patient outcomes?
#2. Real-time care - in a world where information is immediately accessible.
Healthcare professionals will also have access to a far higher quantity and speed of information, enabling them to communicate more efficiently than ever before. Staff across hospitals and clinics – from receptionists to consultants, nurses to surgeons – will be able to stay connected in real-time, offering a more consistent, seamless experience for patients.
Stitch is a great example. It is a bit like a professional (and more advanced) version of What’sApp. Specifically geared up for healthcare professionals, it uses secure conversations organised around individual patients or providers. So when a patient checks-in, the front desk can set up a conversation and alert staff. All relevant patient history, data, scans, test results and so on can be uploaded. It enables healthcare professionals to share the technical detail, but also practicalities and more of a human-touch, keeping everyone in-the-know on a patient’s current state of mind, for example.
On a more holistic scale, ‘smart hospitals’ are beginning to emerge too. The Seoul National University Bundang Hospital is one example. It offers patients a smartphone app to guide them round the hospital, through treatment and procedures and ultimately enables them to pay their bill. Integrated with staff devices, the patient will likely feel more in control, even something as simple as knowing how long they are likely to wait for a procedure can help to reduce what might otherwise be a stressful situation.
Healthcare professionals can also keep up with the latest global research and techniques in real-time through platforms like Docphin, which enables them to “follow their favourite journals, search PubMed, and access over 1,000 landmark articles by specialty, topic or drug class.”
Most of this seemed a long way off and a significant technical challenge, for many of the participants in the room. Across the majority of healthcare providers in the UK, public and private, there’s a vast range of communication channels being used, including mountains of paper, clunky IT software and in some cases even the odd fax machine…
How can the industry move to seamless, productive channels of communication that the right people can access at the right time?
How can organisations digitise, without losing the human-touch?
By looking ahead at what could be mainstream one day, we start to ask ourselves questions like all the above. And they are fantastic, challenging design briefs that keep the patient right at the heart of potential solutions. This is embedded within design thinking and the design process which is inherently ‘user-centered’. It seems obvious, but so often the patient’s point of view is considered as an afterthought as the industry is not led by the quality of patient experience, but by the quality of outcomes. The real challenge for them is designing a future of private healthcare that is capable of delivering excellence across both.
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Uscreates is an award-winning, 10-year-strong strategic design consultancy working to improve health, care and wellbeing through embedding a design approach across organisations. We design communications, services, systems, processes and strategies for a range of public, private and third sector clients including private hospitals and clinics, NHS England, the Department of Health, CCGs, Nesta, the Health Foundation, World Bank and PwC.
Fiona Bennie is an Uscreates associate. She brings over ten years’ experience in foresight and sustainability, focusing on creative approaches to strategy and innovation. By developing future scenarios, foresight, and sustainability principles she helps brands to build innovative solutions for the short and long-term. In healthcare she has worked with Bupa, Spire Healthcare and the NHS. Before setting-up independently (www.fionabennie.com ). Fiona worked for L’Oreal marketing, led innovation projects at Forum for the Future and was Head of Sustainability and Foresight at design and innovation company, Dragon Rouge.
Main image by Adg via Flickr