Public hospitals are critical to the health, wellbeing and proper functioning of our societies. Innovation and experimentation are difficult to do in these complex environments. The Still Dynamic partnered with Startup61 and Melbourne Health to generate a different conversation.
How might we move from patient-centred approaches to person-centred approaches to innovation at Melbourne Health?
A startup health tech accelerator popping up in an unused emergency department? The old colliding head on with the new in a 10-week experiment. We worked as the design-thinkers-in-residence for this experimental program providing way finding, interior design, experience designers and human centred design support to the startups and the hospital staff.
Startups had design clinics that explored why they were doing what they were doing, who their customer was, what their needs are, and a systematic interrogation of the assumptions that each startup was working with. We also curated a discussion about the value of human centred design in health care and health innovation for Melbourne Health staff.
We ran intimate, safe and open workshops with Melbourne Health staff about the challenges facing them. In these workshops, the participants were encouraged to present a current need they were charged with addressing. We showed them how to break down the issues from their patient’s perspective and map the various stakeholder interactions that affected the delivery of quality care. This included exposing the limitations and assumptions in a patient feedback trial, and rapidly prototyping an alternative solution that the problem owners could play with and experience themselves. The prototype revealed the discomfort a patient would experience with the existing feedback system and created space to prototype a simpler, more secure and intimate solution that returned power over the information to the patient.
Following the success of the workshops, we ran two co-design explorations in-situ at the Emergency Department and in the Dialysis Ward.
The Emergency Department – over a 90 minute walkthrough with a member of the nursing staff we mapped the current use of space and information resources. We built empathy for the citizen’s experience of entering the ED and the confusion, anxiety and lack of control that they experience. This led to deeper conversations about the organisation of information and the way finding both inside and outside the ED. The session exposed the assumptions in the hospital’s positioning of furniture, the curation of the space and the selection of information and its usefulness to people presenting at ED.
The Dialysis Ward – in a two-hour walkthrough and rapid prototyping session we analysed the regulatory requirement to re-organise the nurses’ station. Working with the duty staff to understand how they used the station and the designated workspaces, including medication preparation spaces, linen storage, file storage, desk space and the use of mirrors we created paper prototypes of alternative arrangements. During the session, we worked with staff to identify unused or under-utilised spaces and re-purposed them to free up the nurses’ station. The session created alternatives to expensive remodelling of the space and used the nurses’ day-to-day behaviour as the foundation for improving the utilisation of these spaces.
When provided with the right environment and approach, the staff were able to seamlessly participate in rethinking and reimagining the spaces they use everyday. How long did this take in a traditional hospital environment? Much less time than you would think.