When trying to align their practice with Victor Papanek’s affirmation “The only important thing about design is how it relates to people,” designers who consider healthcare as a new career option, face some crucial decisions:
· Innovating inside or disrupting from outside?
· Joining startups or establishing healthcare systems?
· Insurance companies or hospitals?
· Designing products or policy?
Trying to make an informed and ethical decision poses its own challenges:
· Consumerism, as adopted by healthcare, cannot fix old systems, convoluted processes, and aging technologies.
· User experience, or customer experience by proxy, will not directly translate into patient experience.
· “Growing” or “optimizing” health care or health insurance, is not similar to growing or optimizing products.
· Influencing or designing Policy in healthcare has a higher, and longer lasting impact than the Design of experiences, processes, or products.
To explain these dichotomies, I start from John Maeda’s idea of the designer as “a great supporting actor” and the path to impact the traditional healthcare organizations from within.
Using a toolbox of alignment diagrams already familiar to UX designers, we’ll discuss how they can impact organizational gaps (Nilofer Merchant’s “”air sandwich””), the effects gap (from Stephen Bungay’s Art of Action), and strategy formation gaps (from Henry Mintzberg’s Strategy Safari) in three healthcare organizations: a health system, an insurance company, and a rehabilitation hospital.
Additionally, I offer examples of what designers in healthcare need to know at the strategy level in the relationships between patients – providers, patients – payers, and payers – providers.