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Register today by selecting "Group Fee." Under: "How did you hear about Transform?" check "OTHER" and note Core77.
Core77 is proud to be a Media Sponsor for this year's Transform2011 symposium, hosted by the Mayo Clinic's Center for Innovation in Rochester, Minnesota. A groundbreaking multidisciplinary gathering, Transform2011 will focus on the challenges of the health care delivery system through the lens of design—disruptive ideas, innovation, social media, games, technology development, advocacy, environments and shifting populations. The focus of the annual symposium is to encourage partnership, participation and engagement from professionals across disciplines with a common goal to affect change in the healthcare delivery system.
This year, Transform has invited a powerhouse of design thinkers and business leaders to participate in the symposium including William Drenttel (DesignObserver), John Thackara (Doors of Perception), Mariana Amatullo (Designmatters), Chris Hacker (Johnson & Johnson), James Hackett (Steelcase) and our own Allan Chochinov, just to name a few. We recently told you about a unique opportunity to be part of the conversation through the iSpot challenge and gave you a look into the Mayo Clinic CFI's design process. Today we're digging in a little deeper to learn more about the potential of design to transform our current healthcare delivery system.
Core77 had an opportunity to speak with two of this year's speakers: Doug Powell (AIGA and HealthSimple) and Maggie Breslin (Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation). Read on to hear more about their perspective on this year's conference.
When Doug Powell's daughter Maya was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, he and his wife Lisa Schwartz Powell embarked on a project to create a well-designed tool to help demystify and manage the disease. The result was Type1Tools, a kid-friendly, intuitive educational product with an emphasis on colorful graphics and simplified information. In 2005, the Powells created HealthSimple to bring their approach to a broader audience. As a designer who has worked to bridge the gap between design and the healthcare industry, Powell has a unique perspective on the ways that design can help shape the future of the healthcare industry. Powell explains the urgency and importance of bringing designers and healthcare professionals to the same table:
We need to illuminate to the embedded leaders in the healthcare community what the real opportunity is and the breadth of that opportunity. In certain pockets, design is being implemented and utilized really pretty effectively. For example, the Mayo Center for Innovation is really a leader in this space—in patient room design they look at what that environment is like and what opportunity is there to create an experience for the patient that has a potentially positive effect on their health. That's revelatory; that's really a huge, huge step. But, at the same time there's lots of open opportunity for designers to effectively make our case. Thus far, we've done an okay job of that but we need to continually do better to refine our story, keep finding new ways to connect with that audience and introduce new examples of effective design in the healthcare space.
Maggie Breslin, Senior Designer/Researcher at the Center for Innovation, pioneered the role at the Mayo Clinic in 2005. The organization was one of the first groups to embrace design as an inroad to healthcare solutions, bringing designers in-house in the mid-aughts. With a background in communication and media, Breslin brings a unique perspective to not only her role at the Center for Innovation, but also as a a designer. We spoke with Breslin about the importance of storytelling and the role of design in working to bring about new solutions for the healthcare delivery system.
Core77: Can you kind of tell us a little bit about just the importance of storytelling in your work, both as a designer and the Mayo Clinic?
Maggie Breslin: One of the sort of mini founding principles of the Center for Innovation is this real commitment to the idea that you can be multi-disciplinary and that any kind of solution to our healthcare delivery problem is going to come by bringing people together who haven't normally been at the table to think about the problem and to think about solutions and to really engage each other in the way of advancing ideas.Part of what is interesting about design at the Center for Innovation, is that the design discipline is the oddest one in the room—meaning it was the discipline that really was not in any way at the table before we created SPARC (which evolved into the Center for Innovation).
Traditionally within the medical field, who are some of the other players at the table?
The three shields within Mayo Clinic is: Practicing Clinicians which could be physicians as well as nurses and social workers. Administrators who are kind of from the business side of that table that we have as part of our Center for Innovation—different sorts of business strategists and entrepreneurs. And you have technology. And you have research; there is a very strong arm of Mayo Clinic that is about both basic science research and also translational research which is the bench-to-bedside type of research.
There is also a huge education component at Mayo Clinic—medical and graduate students as well as educators. We have a huge engineering department, a public policy center that advocates for changes at a national level and a public relations department that engages the city of Rochester.
As far as design at the table, at least the type of design that we really practice —grounded in research with the idea of prototyping, trying new things and developing within the clinical practice, Mayo Clinic was really the first healthcare group to say: We think this is important and we think it is important enough that we are going to bring this group of people into our organization and begin to give them a home and begin to allow them to grow.
When we first started SPARC we were two designer/researchers. And now our team is I up to about 12 or 13 and will grow more this year. That is a testament to the idea that bringing designers to the table as another group to participate in these conversations has been really important.
Getting to your question about where storytelling comes in: it is one of the opportunities and a huge challenge that we have when bringing people from a lot of different disciplines together and figuring out how to talk to each other and how we collectively get on the same page, incorporate everyone's ideas and viewpoints and figure out a pathway forward becomes critically important to making the successful method. We have found that your ability to tell a story, to serve as a mirror to the practice at Mayo Clinic and to be able to say: this is what it feels like to be a patient, provider or to practice here and to have people feel like their experiences were reflected in the stories that we tell is specifically important to getting the buy-in and the participation that we need to actually affect large-scale change.
Participation is the only we are going to affect change in the healthcare delivery system. And so we do that within the Center for Innovation within Mayo Clinic and then Transform, as a symposium, is our attempt to do that at a larger scale. We actually want to create some relationships to bring people from a number of different disciplines to encourage partnership and participation and engagement on a much larger scale.
What are some of the tenants that you as a designer and a researcher feel that designers can really contribute to the conversation on healthcare reform?
I think that our work is really grounded in two very unique skills. The first is all of our design work is grounded in field research. We spend a lot of time out in the field watching people, observing, talking to people as a way of understanding what the human issues are kind of as particular problem or particular issue we are trying to tackle. Doing that research, being able to come back and make sense of the patterns of that research. And showing new ways of finding that understanding and being able to give it some sort of dimension and boundaries to share it with people from across these different disciplines—I think that is a critically important thing that design does. We go out into the field, identify insights and then have the work of being able to make those insights available and actionable to a large group of people.
The second skill set that I think designers bring to the table is the willingness to make things. A lot of ideas in healthcare are only talked about. The people sit in conference rooms and they spend a lot of time trying to describe a really complex idea only in words. Often people misinterpret what others are thinking and a lot of time and energy is spent arguing about something that people may actually agree on. And they can't seem to get past that.
So part of what design does within the Center for Innovation, is to get the people out of that room as quickly as possible once we have started talking about a new idea or a new concept and instead, figure out some way to make that idea real so that we can try it out in the [messiness] of the process. Oftentimes there's a chasm; people come up to the edge and they have an idea but they don't know how to make it real in the world. And design training is all about figuring out how to make the things in your head exist in the world as a way of trying to see if there is anything there.
This is an insanely important skill in trying to transform how we deliver healthcare because the problem is not the ideas. I often say that if somebody put a moratorium on healthcare innovation ideas tomorrow we would be fine for a couple of hundred years. Every idea to fix healthcare delivery has been thought of. We just struggle to make them real in the world and to create them in such a way that people can actually engage and interact with them so we can figure out what works and what doesn't work.