Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Design Thinking and Health Care- My MedX IDEO Challenge Experience

Earlier this year I was chosen to be a MedX e-patient delegate and participate in the IDEO Challenge.  During the Challenge an e-patient team member brings a problem they need solved to a team of researchers, physicians, other health care providers, anthropologists and designers . Each problem statement begins with the words "How might we...?".  I knew this was something I wanted to do. I love problem solving and enjoyed creating products when I worked as an engineer.  But at the same time I was a bit nervous about how we could accomplish anything in one day.

Before we met in person, Liza Bernstein ( @itsthebunk) a MedX Patient Advisor and Challenge participant gathered the other Challenge e-patients  Alan Brewington (@abrewi3010), Doug Kanter ( @dougkanter), Annette McKinnon (@anetto),  IDEO founder Dennis Boyle (@dennisjboyle) and myself for multiple Google Hangouts. We had a chance to meet each other and learn what to expect from the day. We had homework to do too. We were asked to read books on Design Thinking and articles about how design thinking has solved problems in business and education. We were also asked to develop 4-5 of our very own "How might We...?" statements related to our health care. When we all got together at IDEO headquarters on Thursday we were ready  hit the ground running.

The day began with a tour of the IDEO facilities and a review of the design thinking process. I was introduced to my team members as well as Ariana and Jayant from IDEO. They asked me to tell my story about my experience as an ovarian cancer patient and survivor. Once they knew my background, I shared the four "How Might We"" (HMW) statements I had developed for the day. As it turns out the initial HMW statement that I used on my MedX application didn't make the cut for my personal list that day.

What followed may be one of the most patient centered experiences I have ever had. The team members asked me questions, lots and lots of questions about my treatment, how I felt at various times during my treatment, what it was like living with the possibility of a recurrence and even questions about the effect my disease had on my family. Many of these questions were about things my care team which I think it top notch had never thought to ask me. Most importantly my team listened. They didn't judge.  They were able to keep their pre-concieved notions on how I might feel or handle a situation out of the conversation. Sometimes we got bogged down in discussing which word would best express what I wanted to say but we stayed on track most of the time. As my team members listened, they jotted down quotes on Post-it notes using Sharpies and placed them on a white board.

The beginning of the  process.
 Eventually, we focused my needs on this final HMW statement.

HMW help cancer survivors understand what to expect after treatment ends. 

But there was more work to do. Next, came the brainstorming session where the sky was the limit. Every single member of the team brought ideas, once again on Post-it notes, to the discussion board. The board was covered with statements and drawings to solve my problem.The most difficult part at this stage was deciding as a team which ideas we should develop into a prototype. And you know what? All the team members turned to me and said, "What would satisfy your needs as a patient finishing treatment?".  "WOW, " I thought to myself, "This is a patient-centered process."

We combined a few components to answer my HMW problem. They included items for the doctor's office and for use at home.

  • An "I'm in Control" Box for tips from survivors and questions from patients (doctor's office).
  • An "I'm in Control" Bulletin Board( doctor's office) to share information and answer questions  from the box.
  • A Gift Box given to the patient on the last day of treatment containing a "Have No Fear" bracelet; a book of inspiration from other cancer patients; a temporary "I am in Control" tattoo and a patient newsletter. The newsletter contains a daily calendar for the first month after treatment which includes information about how the patient might feel (both physically and emotionally), what side-effects they might be experiencing, nutrition and exercise tips and when to call the doctor regarding symptoms etc. These newsletters with daily tips/ information would continue to be mailed home each month after treatment. 
  • For those patients with internet access they could opt to receive the information contained in the newsletter in an application for the computer or i-Pad. The patient may also choose to keep track of how they are feeling and any symptoms they are experiencing on the app. If they desire to, they can share this information with their doctor via e-mail. 
Some of the props / components to solve my HMW statement on our brainstorming board.

The last step of the day was to take the prototypes and developed a skit around a patient's last day of chemo. I played the patient while my team members played doctors and nurses in an oncology office setting. Everyone was pleased with the prototypes and the skit but none more than me. I was thrilled with what we had accomplished in 7 hours.

After experiencing the Challenge , I learned how much you can accomplish when all the team members know the design thinking process, are invested in making the process work and are guided by individuals who know and care about the process and outcome.

Here is my next HMW statement.

HMW facilitate design thinking in all aspects of patient care. 

A special thank you to Dennis, Ariana and Jayant from IDEO for sharing the IDEO facilities and their design thinking expertise with me. And a warm thank you to my team Simon, Rona, Javed, Andy and Lisette for being part of my team and for listening so closely to my story and needs. I couldn't ask for better team members.
Some of the members of my Ideo Challenge team and I

Every Day is a Blessing!


Annette said...

I can just refer people to your blog, with a "What she said"
I like your closing How Might We. If we had an answer to that it would solve a lot of problems. The IDEO team was amazing and all of the participants. The cardiac surgeon on my team looked so happy to be brainstorming and playing the worst patient ever!! He was just beaming. And who ever thought i would get a glow stick from a venture capitalist.
How might we let everyone have the same experience?

White Vein said...

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