How Might We…

The IDEO way
Inspire, Evolve, Validate

How Might We….

This is the prompt IDEO asked each epatient to consider as we each developed our own design problem statements for the IDEO Design Challenge Workshop as part of Stanford’s Medicine X conference.

IDEO is a fantastically neat company.  As @AfternoonNapper tweeted, I didn’t know it was possible to have such a crush on a company.  They focus on Human-Centered Design  and push their employees to innovate – often with the help of sticky notes, toys, and costumes.  On Friday, September 28, 2012, they decided to tackle Patient Centered Design, bringing in five epatients and creating teams around them to solve our biggest health care problems.

After a long morning talking to my team,we developed this design problem statement came down to “How Might We Help Patients Tell Their Entire Health Story?” And my team took to analyzing every part of my epatient story to start to come up with ideas.

Though my team was amazing and worked very hard to think of a way to answer this question, they chose slightly more tech-centered approaches.  I however decided what I really wanted was something much simpler.

And thus blossomed “Doc Walk” a way for doctors to walk both literally and theoretically with their patients towards health.

The theme that arose from my discussion was a sense that some of my doctors just understand me.  In other words, “he gets it”  As I started to think about why “he get’s it” and how he understands me, I realize it’s because I have entrusted him with my story.  But how did we establish that trust in the first place?  We had to walk together.

In my circumstance, the walking wasn’t literal.  But my doctor did something unusual in asking me to email him every week – not my self-tracking numbers, just how I was and what went on in my life that week.  In so doing, he has walked through my life for over two and a half years with me.

How might we enable other doctors and patients to make this sort of connection?

Knowing that patients want to be a part of their care, my solutions asks patients as they enter an office to select what is most important to them:

  • Talking about my physical health
  • Talking about my mental health
  • Talking about my family, work, or other socioeconomic issues
  • Not being defined by a disease
  • Having fun

Once selected, the patient and the doctor could then select one means to address this priority.  (note: IDEO asked us to think without limits.  These ideas may be crazy particularly given our current system, but what if they could be?)

  • Go for a walk with your doctor
  • Have a 10 minute disease freeze in the appointment (i.e. not talking about the disease)
  • Emailing each other
  • Play a game (maybe scrabble or Chutes and Ladders)
  • Start off the appointment with an icebreaker
  • Have the doctor answer one personal question
  • Let a patient bring something in for show and tell (side note: I once brought in my Sphero ball and the office loved it)
  • Don’t allow the doctor to talk the first 5 minutes
  • Share pictures, Avatars, or Instagram (not just pictures of yourself but pictures that mean something to the patient)
  • Do a team sport with your doctor
  • Have a spa day together
  • Be given words of encouragement, a card, a message from a Jar of Hope that speaks to your current circumstances
  • Receive a daily pre-recorded message from your doctor
  • Garden together

How might we let the doctor know this is working?  Well, what if the patient…

  • Rang a buzzer when the doctor “get’s it”
  • Smiled before leaving the office
  • Gave an empathy award
  • Gave the doctor gold stars (not as a rating system but as positive feedback)
  • Named their baby after their doctor
  • Brought in veggies from their home garden
  • Sent a postcard or letter

In this way, the patients and doctors can stop being aliens.  They can come together with defined expectations to build the patients’ health stories and find health.

(see my presentation of Doc Walk here)

This then was my solution developed at IDEO.  And while it’s not a fancy app or device, it is a simple means by which we can humanize medicine again.

How might you walk with your doctor?

Here are a few tips from IDEO on how to brainstorm your solution:

Throughout the day I was challenged to think about what I want for health care, what works, what we can cultivate to make things better.  It was a day where no one said no (again from @AfternoonNapper). Everything was a possibility.  I’m so very grateful to have been given the chance to be a part of this unique experience.  I will carry on the lessons learned here and ask always –

How might we change the world?

See also:

Many thanks to Dennis Boyle, Helena Cohen (who made sure there was really good gluten free food for me throughout the day – a rarity at conferences!), Abbe Don, David Janka, Dr. Larry Chu, and a great team!


One Response to How Might We…

  1. […] Workshop where my team worked to help find a way to tell patients’ stories.  (Read also my post on my day at IDEO).  And I was honoured to meet Dr. Chu as well as the other epatients (see all […]

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