After working closely with the healthcare industry in India and the US for a while, I got to know interesting insights about it. This industry is huge, in fact second largest in the world and has mammoth potential As you know it is the second largest industry in the world and yet to be transformed by design, it is suffering! How?
- 10 - 17 % of all deaths around the world are caused by medical errors.
- Shortage of medical personnel is a basic problem in the health sector.
- There is barely any patient’s data being stored in Indian hospitals.
- Hospitals in the US pay billions in fines for not maintaining proper electronic records.
- Nurses spend hours everyday on using EMRs/EHRs cutting down on actual care time for the patients.
- Lack of accessibility of Healthcare is a big issue.
There are many more disturbing factors for this industry across world. What is the reason?The major reason lies in the existing healthcare system and also the lack of vision and intervention from designers. Things are only going to get worse with the increase in patients and “lack of doctors across the globe.” says a doctor in one of our discussion with him.
Problems at the Core
- Healthcare professionals, be it doctors or nurses, are typical users to get involved with technology. Charts and sheets of paper are their favourite and most convenient tools. It’s a challenge to shift the paradigm here.
- Hospitals and organizations those who have adopted some of the most horribly designed softwares of the world are not willing to let go off those because of the legacy issues. The data they are holding, if lost, might make hospitals go bankrupt. This potential problem is the biggest hurdle to make stakeholders even think of replacing those systems.
- Now even if someone decides to take the above risk, integrating new softwares with these age old systems is extremely time consuming and tedious process. This is another challenge to overcome.
- And not to mention the classic problem of red-tapism in large organizations. Any and every decision, be it, redesigning the existing software or initiating and completing new projects requires so many layers of approval that they almost die mid-way.
Problems from Design World
- Design has gained importance recently and we have still not explored it in its full potential.
- Healthcare industry has recently explored its digital face and still design has not touched the industry the way it should.
- All the available software’s for Healthcare industry has been designed horribly and lack user empathy, be it doctors or patients.
- Even till the date concentration is on developing products or software’s that do not answer the core problem.
Is there a solution? A huge YES! Though it is definitely challenging to transform healthcare industry, it’s amazing to realize that some of the big healthcare organizations across globe are waking up and trying to implement and integrate the new solutions. And from being involved closely with some of the leaders in the industry, I can tell, the ball has started rolling, people are confronting these challenges.
I have been lucky to be part of one the biggest healthcare client for one of our recent projects (I can’t disclose the name as we are under NDA). And, I suppose this is the beauty of working in a design studio, you get your hands on all kinds of domains. And for me, this one was huge as I got to work with one of the biggest players in health-tech industry and also visit states learning and working with some eminent personalities in the field.
Here, I am sharing my learning while designing in Healthcare sector. And it is a fact that only good DESIGN can build awesome software’s, irrespective, of any industry. So, i f you are planning to design for Healthcare, please ensure that you do not miss out on these absolutely critical steps:
- Spend lot of time with doctors and nurses in understanding their mental models. They have spent more than a decade in learning how to cure patients and they have least interest in again learning to use the sophisticated software’s. No, they are not meant for that.
- Users in this industry and across most industries doesn’t care about the beautiful interfaces, sure we can have one, but what really matters is the right information. Information design is what really will decide the success of the product in long term.
- Make life of your users easy. If you are not doing that, then I bet the users will not adopt the product, unless of course the higher management forces it, which is what has been happening with most of the existing products out there.
- Trash designs. Yes, I learnt, the more comfortable you are trashing designs and the more you iterate incorporating new, better ideas and feedback, the better it gets.
Quoting one of the most brilliant designer on a path to disrupt this industry, “It is not the tech, it is design that will transform healthcare industry.” Design is the power which will make this happen and when I say design, it’s not the pretty looking interfaces, it is figuring out the core problems and dissecting them to build solutions around people by working in knit with this industry.