Redesigning health care for a patient centered approach

Apr 11, 2016 · 4 min read

The US healthcare system is complex, costly and underperforms in comparison to many othernations. Recent years have seen technological advances, policy changes and significant investments in healthcare quality measurement, but people throughout our country continue to suffer from poor results. Health services are failing to meet the needs of many patients and clinicians, as indicated by the prevalence of chronic conditions, life expectancy inequalities and worrying trends of provider-burnout.

Identifying gravitational pull in healthcare

At the Center for Innovation in Mayo Clinic, we feel it is time to stop trying to improve a system that we believe is failing people. We need to redefine what health and healthcare should be, and redesign the system to focus more heavily on a patient centered approach. Our work has contributed to the integration of new technologies, such as eConsults, video visits and new approaches to care delivery such as optimized care teams. However, even the most innovative, patient centered solutions can be limited by existing constraints to the healthcare system which we call the gravitational pull.

Gravitational pull refers to the assumptions, constraints and realities of the current healthcare system. It includes reimbursement, regulation, clinician licensure and training and even the culture of medical institutions. All of these factors interfere with innovation and make it difficult to drive change based on the needs of people.

Constraints are a reality, but how much can we afford to only tweak a system that is failing people? Collectively, the CFI team has spent over 10,000 hours speaking with and listening to patients in the context of over 270 projects. We have accompanied them on their healthcare journey from the moment they considered connecting with Mayo Clinic to their return to health or desired function and we have provided this same scrutiny to providers to identify gaps and challenges.

Establishing new systemic principles

A set of system principles have emerged from our team’s collective knowledge. These inform CFI’s project work and contribute to an intelligent adaptable system that meets the needs of people with a patient centered approach.

Knowing the person beyond just his or her medical condition means considering family and community support, mental and emotional state, attitudes and beliefs regarding health and health care and how best to communicate with each individual person.

This personalized model should allow us to provide a patient centered approach: the right service at the right place at the right time. In a system driven by meeting peoples’ needs, this may not mean a face-to-face appointment. Instead, it may mean making medical knowledge more accessible and supporting local care decisions, offering online support or video appointments or even connecting the patient with resources in his or her community outside of the typical healthcare setting.

As people determine the right path for their individual needs, we can uncover ways to optimize services and experiences. The best solutions will use resources appropriately and align with the kinds of experiences desired by both patients and providers.

Healthcare is a complex system with many changing variables, it is important to create awareness and flexibility. Meeting peoples’ needs means making real-time information available within a system that flexes appropriately to support new decisions.

Solving the US healthcare system’s shortcomings will take many individuals pushing back against the gravitational pull. It will require a more patient centered approach to healthcare services and business decisions based on a new set of principles. CFI is continuously experimenting with these challenges and we invite you to join us in conversation about a redesigned system that makes change possible.

Meet Meredith Dezutter

Meredith Dezutter conducted design research for award-winning products and solutions for 19 years. With the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation since 2011, she has been applying human-centered design to improve the lives of patients, caregivers and providers.

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