NEW ORLEANS – Design thinking is a concept that reintroduces empathy into technology, says Sutherland Healthcare’s Avery Earwood, and it is being used in home health care today to improve the patient experience.
In his keynote address to attendees of last week’s Home Health Technology Summit, Earwood explained that design thinking is a human-centered approach that combines empathy, group brainstorming, rapid prototyping and much testing to solve a complex problem.
“Customers value their experience more than a product or its price,” said Earwood, digital transformation practice leader and consulting partner. “It’s what guides the rest of the process.”
The five elements of design thinking are: empathize with the user; define the user’s needs, their problem and possible insights; create ideas for innovative solutions; prototype to start creating solutions; and test the solutions. The key to using design thinking to successfully tackle a specific problem in home health care is to thoroughly understand the patient or user.
Earwood said in home health care, face-to-face interactions are still highly valued, but digital interactions and communications are becoming more frequent.
“You have to ask yourselves if it’s easy for a patient to interact with you,” he said.
The usability of a digital platform, device or wearable translates into how that technology makes the user feel, and that feeling will determine whether or not the patient uses it, Earwood said.
“Today and going forward, the focus needs to be on humans and the user experience,” he said. “That leads to empathy.”