On Experience Design, Life Flow & Healthcare

May 2, 2016 10:51 pm


We recently had the pleasure of working with Andrew Thompson, CEO of  Proteus Digital Health when he joined a panel we ran at SXSW interactive.  He has not only built one of the industries hottest digital healthcare companies, he is a veteran in med-tech and finance.

Thompson’s panel was part of the 11-event, IEEE Tech for Humanity Series, which Live Path helped organize.  The session, “Virtual Physicians:  The Future of Healthcare” included  Jay Iorio, Director of Innovation for IEEE ,  Dr. Leslie Saxon, Founder of USC’s Center for Body Computing and Dr. Todd Richmond, Head of Advanced Prototyoping for USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies.  The panel discussion outlined how the technologies of the future will revolutionize healthcare, ushering in more technology-enabled, proactive care models of the future. Click here for more information.

Andrew provided valuable insight into the opportunities present for improving our modern system of healthcare.  However, he also shared some thoughts about experience design of healthcare that directly apply to Customer Experience Management that are really worth sharing.  So, here goes:

As background, when asked for his perspective on the “Global Healthcare Crisis,” Thompson’s response was remarkably positive.  “We don’t have a crisis.” said Thompson, “That’s the wrong way to look at things. What we have on our hands today is global healthcare opportunity.”  He went on to explain that our modern system of “Healthcare” is fundamentally flawed.  Not only does it fail to scale globally, as Richmond and Saxon highlighted, our current system of care fails as a true model for proactive and effective healthcare.  “What we have essentially,” said Thompson, “is a system of sick care”

Tracing the design of our current system back to its roots, Thompson eluded to a healthcare system that was poorly designed from the beginning: Not only was it created to address old healthcare challenges (acute disease and trauma) based on old knowledge, old products and technologies (like buildings and electricity) — it was designed with a with a core focus on “money flow.”

When we create systems that are meant to serve people, yet fundamentally design them based on how to make money, Thompson asserts that our systems almost always work against the people they were established to serve.   To underscore his point, he points to a healthcare system that fails to proactively partner with people to produce wellness;  a sick care system that fails to mesh well with how people really live, and which benefits more financially from human illness – more than it does from creating human wellness.

To address future, global needs, Thompson paints a picture of the vast opportunity currently present, to transform our current system of “sick care” into a new system of “health care” by redesigning it around human “life flow.”   This places deep emphasis on the needs, contexts, relationships, privacy concerns, healthcare issues (specifically the management of chronic disease), behavior patterns and use of technology of patients and their caregivers.  Life flow-based design seeks to create a truly human-centric vision for a new model of care;  a relational model that is designed to better inform, educate, monitor and care for humans — in a way that synchronizes with the way they live, work and communicate.

He went on to underscore that, once we better understand the life flow of patient and their caregivers, we can then map healthcare “work flow” around it.  This fundamentally redesigns the way physicians and healthcare providers manage care in the future, addressing unmet needs, reaching out through new channels, harnessing and leveraging essential data, and leveraging technology and the IoT to scale.  The new healthcare workflow, designed to mesh with human life flow will result in a more effective model for healthcare, where physicians are better empowered as proactive health partners, patients and caregivers are enabled to make better, more informed life decisions, and access is available to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Thompson went on to assert that, as healthcare workflow is solidified, better models for  “money flow” can be developed.  As this happens, greater financial reward must be attached to quality care provision, broader access to care, and improved patient outcomes (disease management, health, increased lifespan, etc.)  Building in mechanisms that meaningfully reward all stakeholders, from healthcare providers, patients, caregivers to clinics, hospitals to pharmaceuticals companies, insurance companies and other stakeholders will be critical to success.   The primary goal will be to help ensure the systems of healthcare profit more greatly from human wellness than from human illness.

A simplified diagram for life-flow based design might look like this:

Life Flow - UCD for Healthcare

In Thomas’ own words, “If our future healthcare system is designed and driven by big corporations, big pharma and big government, we’ll continue to have big problems.” He asserted that, to build a system that proactively helps people live  active, healthy and longer lives, that it will be incumbent upon each one us to put the needs of people first.  In conclusion, he issued a call for all of us to work together to transform our modern system of sick care into a model that delivers a healthier future for global humanity.

In essence, Thompson stands as an advocate for Human Centered Design (HCD), also known as User Centered Design for healthcare.  His rallying cry to work together to revolutionize our systems of care is not only compelling, it’s directly relevant to other industries and companies.  

Unfortunately, it is all too common to sacrifice people on the altar of money flow – and it always results in huge problems downstream. However, this isn’t necessarily happening because all stakeholders are inherently evil.   In fact, it’s more likely that one would find a larger portion of the people in any services industry today – especially medicine –  demonstrate a heartfelt desire to help and serve people.   Instead, our problems typically arise because our business model and service design are based on old thinking, outdated knowledge, past problems and patterns, and outdated technology — with a central focus on money flow.   This has woven a web of incredibly complex business issues that can be difficult and costly to change.

These broadscale, complex issues across industries, verticals and companies have served as a key driver for the customer experience (CX) management tsunami.  However, CX has been a big deal for over a decade now – and this wave may be cresting out of sheer exhaustion.  Prior to the CX wave, we rode the CRM and Integrated Marketing waves.  Over the decades, we’ve improved our thinking, tools and design to make some improvements.  However, as a whole, many companies are hard pressed to make the kinds of broad, customer-centric improvements that will revolutionize relationships while continuing to drive shareholder value.   In truth, driving sweeping improvements require radical changes, for which many companies  (and their money flow focused investors) — may be unprepared.  Initiating and driving such changes requires careful orchestration, cross-organizational collaboration and a high level of investment, commitment and ownership.

Specific to healthcare, the rallying cry to redesign our system of sick care is an important one;  one that should resonate with industry, academia, government.  The call should be addressed by well-resourced companies that are seasoned in designing based on life flow, like Google and Apple.  The cry is relevant to innovative companies like Proteus, which has on its own created an entirely new category of digital medicine.  This call is also relevant to innovators and professionals across sectors.  In Live Path’s view, this includes strategists, CX practitioners, information architects, designers and developers who understand the principles of user and customer-centered experience design.  The opportunity is present for us all, and the playing field is open.

Together, we can partner to create a new human-centric system for global healthcare.  This movement has already started – just do a simple Google Search.  In fact, in partnership with my friends at USC (Dr. Leslie Saxon, Dr. Todd Richmond and others), Proteus digital health is also partnering to support the development of the world’s first Virtual Care Clinic, as a pilot model for future health care.  Be sure to check it out.

Special thanks to Andrew Thompson, Dr. Leslie Saxon, Dr. Todd Richmond and Jay Iorio for participation on this highly insightful panel at SXSW.  We look forward to working with you in the near future.   In parting, here’s a brief video with Thompson, discussing how Proteus digital medicine works:

Tags: , ,

Categorised in: , , , , ,

Comments are closed here.