A design thinking driven program on healthcare

Hacking Health and Attoma Milano

Hacking Health

Hacking Health is a global movement active in 55 cities around the world; it was born in Canada in 2012 and its aim is to transform the healthcare experience of users by bringing innovation into their daily life as patients/caregivers/experts, thanks to a wide network of partners and stakeholders. Hacking Health declines its bottom-up and multidisciplinary approach in different ways per each country. The main event of each Hacking Health Chapter is the big hackathon. Hacking Health Milano 2016 held a hackathon with 147 participants working in teams on 10 projects. People coming from different domains of expertise (students, coders, doctors, experts and designers) joined the event, thus creating a heterogeneous community.

Hacking Health in Milan

In 2014 Hacking Health first met Attoma Group / Milano, a service design and strategic consulting company mainly specialized in healthcare and mobility services, based in Paris, Milan and Berlin. The Milan branch of the company led the first and the second Italian editions of Hacking Health Milano, being leader of the Italian Chapter.

Thanks to the design-oriented approach of the company, Attoma Group made a step forward in the development of the project, creating a unique service design-oriented model within Open Innovation projects in the healthcare system. The innovation process within the Italian Chapter of Hacking Health took its current shape after introducing User Research and Service Design methodologies to tackle a complex and ambiguous challenge: hacking the healthcare system by creating tangible prototypes to improve its users’ experience.

The main purpose of Attoma Group was to keep constantly an eye on human-centered research, thus resulting in a variety of tools, methods and techniques taken after service design methodologies within open innovation in healthcare: this peculiar approach aims to blend insights from the “crowd” with those from a wide range of experts in healthcare&design, engaging a wide range of experts and common people who wanted to share their experiences and needs.

Hacking Health 2016: spring innovation in hospitals

How did it work? The project main goal was to help hospitals and clinics to promote/foster in-house innovation projects by creating a community by favoring an active engagement of people being proactive Hacking Health Milano. Attoma gave Hacking Health Milano six bottom-up innovation rules: human-centered, processual, open, generative, interdisciplinary, narrative. The whole itinerary has been designed to offer an inclusive attendance of people, by letting their concrete needs emerge from the narratives of their daily experiences.

The chance to create a local network with 11 among hospitals and clinics, gave the project a solid foundation to rely upon during the whole research itinerary: having the opportunity to conduct ethnographic observations and interviews with experts, patients, caregivers and nurses, helped us to address some concrete daily problems throughout the healthcare system.

Thanks to this activity, the community opened up to university students who were enrolled in several co-design workshops together with institutional and corporate partners. Design Thinking takes its roots from people: starting from looking at their behaviors, it grasps their concrete needs.

A 4-phases itinerary

Hacking Health Milan is a Design Thinking and Open Innovation itinerary structured in 4 phases:

Phase 1. Observation and Collection. User research, ethnographies and interviews within hospitals and clinics (with a total amount of 78 interviews among doctors, nurses, patients and caregivers)

Phase 2. Analysis and Clustering. University students’ co-design workshops, collected data analysis (78 interviews, 10 ethnography reports, 20 digital ethnographers)

Phase 3 . Definition. During a co-design workshop, participants were invited to work on three thematic tables (Re-thinking Care, Re-thinking Patients, Re-thinking Systems) to produce a list of concrete innovation requests.

Phase 4. Solution. We held a hackathon: a marathon of co-creation, design, coding and rapid prototyping aimed to face healthcare concrete issues. People join and choose one of the challenges and after creating or joining a team, they work non-stop for 48 hours and they present a concept or a prototype in front of the jury.

Take aways

One of the main outcomes of Hacking Health Milano 2016 was the active and ongoing involvement of hospitals and clinics, from the very first phase of user research to the last sprint of the project. Hospitals and clinics managed to present their pitches by the end of the three-days marathon, the teams were successfully involved into a non-stop working session where they borrowed the design-thinking and co-design methodologies they had seen for the first time during the previous sessions of Hacking Health Milano itinerary.

From this point of view, the itinerary itself shows how crucial the inclusion of structures like hospitals and clinics can be, if we consider the great amount of data and insights they provided straight away to the heart of the project. Moreover, this last consideration about creating a solid network among healthcare structures, shows once again the disruptive power of design-thinking in bringing concrete solutions to daily users’ problems.

Network Hacking Health Milan 2016

Attoma Milano established a heterogeneous network by putting together institutional partners (like the Municipality of Milan and Regione Lombardia), sponsors (Roche and Bioupper) and hospitals whose involvement helped during the whole itinerary. An organizational committee was founded to help and manage the Hacking Health Milano network during the different phases of the project. Among the committee members we mention some of the main partners, such as Polihub, a Startup District&Incubator, the University of Milano-Bicocca, the fablab WeMake, ITIA CNR, National Research Counsel and InnoVitsLab, a management consulting firm specialized in startups acceleration (see the whole network in the picture below)