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Design Thinking

To design clinical experiences that meet patients' needs, Mayo Clinic must understand those needs. The Center for Innovation (CFI) uses a defined methodology to bring discipline and focus to the work of innovation. Housed on the 16th floor of the Gonda and Mayo buildings, the center is like a giant incubator — a space for nurturing new ideas, enabling them to grow, mature and evolve until they are ready for the patient.

The center has developed an in-house lab, the Design Research Studio. Not only do we observe patients, interview families, and conduct traditional consumer research, but we also visualize, model, prototype and test possible health care delivery solutions, creating innovations that will transform health care delivery.

Design thinking is a creative, problem-solving approach that CFI uses to improve consumer health care experience and delivery. The term characterizes a problem-solving approach that goes beyond process analysis or quality improvement. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Tim Brown, CEO of the design consultancy IDEO, said:

"Design thinking can be described as a discipline that uses the designer's sensibility and methods to match people's needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity."

These sensibilities could include empathy, creativity, ambidextrous thinking, systems thinking, a human-centered focus, and deep curiosity about the world. Design methods include ethnographic and observational techniques, visualization, prototyping, sketching, storytelling, brainstorming, and so on.

Design thinking is a perfect fit with Mayo's values — a human-centered focus (our patient), curiosity (our research enterprise is one of the largest in medicine), and a culture of teamwork.

Refueling Business Strategy

Design thinking has become a vital tool in fueling business innovations. What is our product? Are we delivering it in a way that makes the consumer feel good about the experience? Are we providing a service that won't become obsolete? Some say that the experience is the product. In health care, design thinking has had a role in creating competition where there previously was none.

Mayo's decision to fuse design principles and the hypothesis-based scientific method is invaluable in helping us uncover the various human needs in the health care environment. It's the complement of design allowing us to think beyond what we normally do and serve as translators for ideas and possibilities.

A new way to see patients — Jack and Jill Rooms

Photo of a Jack and Jill conversation room

Jack and Jill conversation room

Exam rooms at Mayo Clinic have remained virtually unchanged in 100 years despite significant changes in physician-patient interaction, tools, technology and processes.

Other the last few years the Center for Innovation has partnered with the Division of General Internal Medicine and the Department of Facilities to codevelop the first new major room innovation at Mayo Clinic in almost a century. The secret was an active experimentation process in which new ideas were iterated and tested in the outpatient laboratory, a unique clinical space where real patients see real physicians.

The rooms, called Jack and Jill rooms, were born from the observation that only a small part of a clinical visit involves a physical exam; yet the rooms are dominated by the tools needed for that activity. As a consequence, it is difficult to create the kind of collaborative communication spaces that would benefit today’s clinical encounters.

Photo of a Jack and Jill exam room

Jack and Jill exam room

The Jack and Jill rooms solve this problem by separating the exam space from the conversation space. Two conversation rooms are located on either side of an exam space with internal doors. Benefits of the new room design have been seen across the practice. Patients see their needs shaping care delivery.

Physicians like having a place to talk to patients where they can see the monitor and include family members. Physicians also found that having an exam room without the couch desk allowed the bed and tools to be rearranged, making the physical exam easier for them. And the increase in conversation rooms allows for more patient visits.

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