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Horses for Sources lauds Sutherland’s design thinking approach

Sutherland and Lawrence General Hospital teamed on a pioneering workshop to understand how Design Thinking can help them understand better the patient experience to remodel the hospital’s entire operations and boost profitability.​

The duo invited HfS Research Chief Research Officer Barbra McGann to follow them as they re-think the patient experience at the hospital about 30 miles north of Boston. McGann said Design Thinking seeks to design workflows and use technology from the human needs perspective, and that begins with empathy.​

The partners are focused on “patient experience as an integral way of designing how the business should operate in the future to impact health, medical, and financial outcomes,” McGann wrote, in her AR HfS POV Patient Experience Workshop LGN -Sutherland Apr 2017. To that end, Sutherland Labs created a workshop with LGH to investigate and “to affirm what’s working well or provide new energy, insight, or guidance for prioritization of project.”​

The workshop brought together Sutherland Labs Director of Design Research Gemma Wilde and Manager of Design Strategy Vanessa Sevilhano with LGH social workers, case managers, population health clinical leaders, outpatient rehabilitation employees, radiology staff, lab workers, patient financial services employees and clinicians.

Together onsite at the hospital, they created “personas” of typical patients and followed their hospital journeys in all phases, including their pain points.​ McGann witnessed first-hand the workshop and the work that went into creating it.​

“What was the person going through at the hospital?” McGann wrote. “They sketched it out and talked about what that journey probably looks like from the patient’s eyes. They also shared perspective from their roles as the patient access manager needing registration details, or the financial services manager knowing that at some point there would be claims, bills, and possible coding mistakes and questions, or the outpatient manager wondering what services would be needed post-discharge.”​

Sutherland made sure the team also kept some focus on the business context and got them to consider ways to address two key objectives: ​

Introduce design thinking techniques and tools that LGH could apply in their work going forward, such as personas and journey maps.​

Enable the LGH and Sutherland Patient Access team members to learn from each other the insights and challenges of the patients and the business.​

“Sutherland Labs got the group through thinking about the stakeholders, the journey, a prioritization of challenges and finally, a statement on ‘how might we’ to lead into next steps,” McGann said. “After the workshop, they also provided a summary deck on what each team did with pictures and key challenges along with the problem statement.”​

LGH Clinical Manager of Population Health Christina Wolf told McGann the workshop solidified the hospital’s work and widened perspective and shared what they learned with the hospital’s patient experience team and patient and family member council.​

“What I liked about design thinking is the ability to scale it down to a team level and use the activities with smaller teams to help impact one outcome or area – to understand the patient journey and the workflow that affects the patient,” Wolf said.​