Design Thinking in Healthcare

Design Thinking, at its core, is a creative process to solve everyday problems with a human-centered approach. While the word ‘creative’ may sound like something do only with designers/artists, the good news is- it’s not. Anyone can implement design thinking. The only thing that you really need is- listen to your customers as people who need your help. Once you understand their needs, their hopes, their fears and the friction they face while dealing with a particular problem- Bang! You are halfway through it.

Let’s hear a story. The story is about a woman named Elisa (yeah! I made that pseudonym). Elisa is an eighty-one-year-old woman suffering from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). When she was told she needs to take an injection in the eye for treatment, she was petrified. And why wouldn’t she? It’s not just any injection on the skin, it’s a needle in the eye. At the age when you are struggling with survival, it’s terrifying to think of ways in which you can go blind.

Why Design Thinking in Healthcare Matters

Apart from this particular case, it’s a fact that many of us dread getting an injection. Diabetic patients go through this painful experience, every day. Sometimes they have to administer these injections themselves, and sometimes they have to deal with a less skilled, less empathetic nurse.

Don’t you think we need a better solution to this? Can’t we develop something which makes this experience less scary? Can we go that extra mile and feel the pain of these patients? Can we somehow make them suffer less than they are already suffering?

An organization called Portal Instruments has now challenged this 160-year-old needle & syringe technology with design thinking. They have created a needle-free computerized injection system which fires a jet of liquid into the human skin. The handheld, low-cost unit is highly precise and accurate. The device is easy to use and its digital health features empower the patients to holistically manage their chronic condition interactively.

Design, particularly in healthcare, is about efficiency, usability, and a better user experience for patients as well as medical practitioners. And Design Thinking is a very powerful approach to solve customer’s problems. So where can you apply design thinking in healthcare?

Design Thinking in Patient Care

How Healthcare Organizations Can Start to Use Design Thinking | PreCheck

Patient care is not just about exchanging pleasantries and moving ahead with the treatment. When you apply Design thinking to this process, you will uncover ways in which care goes beyond the treatment.
A customer empathy map will help you understand your patient’s pain, concerns, fears and go beyond the clinical treatment. For instance, simply by listening to the concerns of expectant mothers, you can help them ease their anxiety. After quality research & brainstorming viable solutions, you can arrive at a proposed solution to help them be better informed about the labor process.

Design Thinking in Clinical Experience

Memorize the last time you were sitting in the emergency-room and recollect your waiting experience. Wait times are difficult to pass. You are in a troubled state of mind. Patients and their families spend a considerable amount of time in waiting rooms, sometimes waiting to be treated and other times waiting to see the doctor.

Design thinking may bring forth innovative ways of helping patients feel comfortable and make their experience bearable. You can start by asking questions and understanding their mindset. Must the patient be left alone while they wait for care? Is there a better way in which family wait time can be utilized? If you can not reduce the wait time, think of ways to utilize it. Once you answer these questions, you’ll be able to elevate the user experience of your users.

Design Thinking in Websites

If you are building a healthcare app/website, then you have to take care of the reliability and accuracy of the information that you provide. A person’s medical records can be critical information while monitoring health patterns or detecting disease symptoms.
Prioritize the most important information & fields for your users. Boil down to basics. Take all age groups into account and design keeping in mind their ailments.
They (might) want more information with less number of clicks, they (might) wish for larger and readable fonts. And while you may get away with frequent ‘small’ updates on social media apps, here it (might) frustrate them.

How to design a great Healthcare Experience

You know why every superhero is veiled behind a mask? Because creators of comic heroes want you to believe that even superheroes are like any other human. Their only superpower is endurance and resilience. They understand people; they want to solve their problems. They put people before anything else.
Much like Spidey! Or Batman.

Design thinking is same. It’s about organizing those mindful scattered ideas that everybody forgot to care about. Design thinking is about subtle differences which make you outshine from the ordinary. Yet it’s not so easy to put yourself in some else’s shoes. It takes a lot of efforts in brainstorming and generating ideas. Then, you should quickly pivot on a prototype and gather user feedback for continuous improvements.

Design thinking has already made it to healthcare. But, as we all are aware of the sad state of product design and innovation in Healthcare, there are still areas where it remains underused, such as patient transportation, the communication gap between doctors and patients, to name just a few. Here’s one approach that might be useful to you-

Research and define the problem statement

If you are dealing in the food business, wouldn’t you start talking to the farmers? So, start with conversations. Talk to patients/families about their problems.
Build customer personas. A persona is an imaginary character that embodies your real customer. Learn about your user’s lifestyle, their goals, their values, the challenges they face. Empathize with your users & their problems.
If you are designing an online appointment experience, you need to involve every single person associated. Right from the doctor to the patient. Even the receptionist. You need to understand their roles and most importantly, where they fit in together. Once you understand their pain points, then you’ll be able to create the experience for patients who need care.


Design Thinking in Healthcare – IDEO U

Enough talking! Time for some action. Gather all that you have talked and use the outcome of Research phase to generate interesting ideas. Not all ideas will be usable; so try and stay close to ‘potential solutions’. Use techniques like high-level drawings, user-mapping and plot a user’s experience map to arrive at innovative solutions.
For instance, while building a SaaS-based mobile engagement platform for one of our client, our design team took conscious efforts to understand the whole journey- health plan benefits, treatment requirements, appointment details, communication medium, medication instructions etc.

Putting down our ideas on paper helped us a lot in working on user workflows. We were able to visualize a smarter workflow which connects with patients through mobile messaging for more effective communication.

Prototype and iterate

Giving your ideas a shape is crucial to the design thinking process. Otherwise, it will just be castles in the air. Prototyping is something that pushes you into making things tangible so that you keep moving forward.
Prototypes will be a proof of concept of your ‘ideation exercises’. They will help you in demonstrating and validating your concepts and understanding. Moreover, they are important because you would want to test your functionalities in a real environment with real users.

Prototypes need not be beautiful. It can be a black and white template of your colorful understanding. It must answer a simple question- as simple as “How would you like to reach out to your members?”

Depending on your application (web/mobile), prototypes can be interactive or static. What really matters is that they must convey the user experience flow.

The advantage of building a prototype is that it’s something substantial and not just some thought process going on in our mind. Once you have pushed that into a real environment, you can take feedback from users and iterate to simplify functionalities.

Designing for healthcare won’t be a joyride. Unlike social media apps like Snapchat, your healthcare platform will grow slowly. And that’s not your mistake. The user base that you are catering to, is not looking for socializing or entertainment. So the only solution lies in applying design thinking to approach problems.

Before aiming for success, first, offer a service that’s valuable. Offer a service that solves a real problem. Offer a service which makes them forget that they are interacting with a machine.
Let’s build a better healthcare experience. Let’s be more human.


Who started design thinking? And where is it heading? In our Long Read, I feel design thinking’s growth from a niche activity to a mainstream practice. Pulling examples from the worlds of technology, public sector and finance, there is an endless argument   that we need design thinking and designers more than ever.

Design Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation %%sep%% %%sitename%%

The evolution of Design thinking 

Being Creative at Work - SharpHeels

There’s no birthday for design thinking. Despite important landmarks and significant claims and contributions from designers, projects and agencies like us, there was no big bang. In the old days, the term “design thinking” described the techniques and methodologies employed by designers to create abstract services and experiences. Now, it’s much broader in scope and application.

Design thinking was present a long time ago in any design education. The system of analysis and synthesis, sketches, computer renderings and models made in workshops was all about customer insight, concept creation, prototype-building and testing. These are the same processes and techniques that nowadays we call design thinking.

But in my very first job, I noticed that the business world was actually very disconnected from customers and design practice. The prominence was more to the engineering team rather than the end user.  Earlier design briefs (or I should call it User Interface briefs) focused on features and market research instead of user insight and testing. Unconscious decisions were made, resulting in marketing that over-promised and an operationally focused customer service.

The spread of design thinking


Geoffrey Moore’s Law of Technology Adoption describes how an initial idea is spread by visionary early adopters (good example is Facebook began as Harvard sophomore and early adopters made it big). The idea traverses the “chasm” of slow adoption and then grows dramatically when those applications and contexts show evidence of success.

Design thinking began with the spread of design practice. When the pioneering agencies began to talk about service design and design thinking, early adopter organisations were quick to see the benefits. Economies moved towards creating value from services as well as products.

But for many years, design thinking remained the domain of the early adopters, because it was seen as threatening traditional, expert-based thought. It wasn’t until we created sustainable service and design thinking practices and the mainstream started believing that such “soft” techniques actually worked that design thinking took off.

Fast-forward to the end of 2015, when tech services giant IBM launched its design thinking methodology and recruited 1,000 designers worldwide, though they burnt close to $100 million in just a year and scraped everything later. But across the globe, design has become an important integrated element within companies and organisations.

Design thinking – in Technology

Why design thinking drives digital transformation | MyCustomer

Technology is an obvious application for design thinking. As a central part of our lives, technology has to be accessible, usable and appropriate to people other than the clever few who developed it. During my time at GreeneStep Technologies, the techniques of usable interface allowed me to shape the strategy and delivery of technology projects. Usability and beauty was a driver of revenue, not a “nice to have”. And this helped companies see the real business benefits and allowed them to successfully exploit the scale and reach of technology. The future of big ideas such as the Internet of Things is as much about trust and customer approval as it is about big data and networks.

…In financial services

White paper: Define product excellence with service design

The interest in design methodologies in business has been phenomenal. I am as surprised as anyone to find that at Barclays, design practice and design thinking are at the heart of how they develop digital banking services. The same goes with Fidelity USA, How many of us know they have a humongous UX centre where close to 60 creative minds put design thinking to work.

Barclays set up a centralised design office four years ago. Through a series of industry-leading products such as Pingit and Barclays Mobile Banking, it led the way in digital banking. Design is now integrated into every business – and designers are in great demand.

But with digitisation comes opportunity to do more than designing screens. Deconstructing processes, removing bureaucracy, putting the user at the heart of process and designing their service experience all change the nature of how we engage with customers.

…And in the public sector

It’s a lesson learnt by government too (Not to the fullest yet).

For the public sector, design thinking has been particularly attractive and at odds with traditional practice. Whether it’s obesity or mass transport, engaging with societal problems and driving real behaviour change is tough.

Customer empathy

7 Ways to Easily Boost Customer Service Empathy

I am amazed every day at how keen business leaders and managers are to use the tools of design and user research in projects and strategy. And it’s no fad. In a post-innovation world, where blindly pursuing new ideas is no longer the primary objective, empathy with customers comes top of the list.

We need emotional context to create clearly differentiated brand experiences that are simply more beautifully designed. This demand often comes from younger generations of employees who are frustrated with old corporate ways of doing things. And, of course, from customers, who increasingly articulate their thoughts and criticisms via social media.

The revolution of design thinking 

Design Thinking: Get a Quick Overview of the History | Interaction Design Foundation (IxDF)

This is an important moment in the journey of design thinking. Great progress has been made. We’re fed up that so many aspects of our lives have been designed by accountants, marketers, technicians or policymakers – those who care more about revenue, message, technology or politics than our real needs and desires. Design offers tangible benefits that complement, orchestrate and deliver human value.

But this is just the beginning. Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, is often cited as the creator of design thinking (though he’d agree that we’d all been doing it anyway). In a recent speech at Central Saint Martins in London, Tim noted that business school students were great advocates of design thinking and a more creative, empathetic approach to management.

There’s great value in demystifying and sharing the tools of design. But it’s also vital to know when a higher level of skill and design thinking processes is required.

Design’s interest in deep user insight, rather than mass research, can therefore offer great value. The same goes for tools such as co-creation and prototyping. By piloting prototypes, you gain feedback and catch problems early in the process. In this way, design has the potential to impact on the success of an initiative or policy.

So, we’re surrounded by success and the embracing of design. Job done? Mission accomplished? No.

Designers are different

What Are The Different Types of Designers Are There In The World?

A designer will see things differently from an accountant, stakeholders or a technology creator. In creative workshops, business students would come up with a single concept and be happy with it, whereas a design-trained student would create five and iterate each idea before finding the ultimate solution.

In a world fascinated by processes that promise responsiveness and rapid development, as exemplified by agile, the role of the designer becomes ever more important.

The designer is a facilitator, a champion of human empathy and a guardian of quality and simplicity. Designers override organisational or technical decisions that can chip away at the customer’s eventual experience. It’s collaboration between all parts of the organisation that makes great design happen.

It’s time to love design 

Download Free png Chinese Stamp Tattoos, Chinese Seal Designs, Name Stamp Tattoo -

There’s also a perception that design thinking and associated activities like service and customer experience design are somehow weak when it comes to aesthetics. But this should never be the case.

Now is the time to raise our ambition. The outputs of design thinking should be as beautiful as we can make them. They should be loved and treasured by all who use them. Rarely does this cost more, though it can take time to find talent and allow it to flourish. The results are always worth it.

Now that we love design thinking, it’s time to love design. Design of the detail, the delivery, the communication, the feel and the experience. People know design is their right and not a luxury; it’s merely humankind deciding how to make things as good as we can make them. This can be applied to an exceptional health service. Or to a transport system that’s empathetic to those who live around it as well as those who use it.

Design is the ultimate shared human activity, by us, for us. It’s time to love design, not just on its birthday, but every day.

Stay tune for what Anteelo has for you on this year’s DESIGN DAY!

App designs, themes, templates and downloadable graphic elements on Dribbble

Inspiration: Smart Design – Products that Change Our Lives by  Clive Grinyer 

* Disclaimer: all the images are copy right of their respective owners, we have only used it for display purpose.

error: Content is protected !!