A Doctor’s perspective on learning Human-Centred Design | PDD

A Doctor’s perspective on learning Human-Centred Design


on April 8 2015

During my internship with PDD, I participated in the LUMA Institute + PDD’s Human-Centred Design (HCD) for Innovation workshop that the PDD HCD team runs several times a year in London.

I initially had doubts about how a two-day workshop could help me tackle the issues I face in clinical settings. From reducing the anxiety of patients as they wait for care to improving medication adherence when patients are on their own, the challenges that clinicians face are varied, complex and multidimensional. Even trying to make a change is a challenge in itself, as many clinicians are pessimistic about what can be done after seeing so many unsuccessful attempts to improve the situation.

Although hospitals have adopted new methods before, most notably Lean and Six Sigma approaches to help with quality improvement initiatives, such methods are often difficult to apply because they require extensive training.

What surprised me in the HCD workshop was how quickly the methods could be applied, and how they stimulated creative engagement through a combination of individual thinking and collaboration. A common problem I’ve seen with traditional idea generation methods is the lack of true collaboration. The group defers to the leader’s idea quite early, resulting in fewer ideas and limiting the creative input of individuals. A key strength of the HCD methods is that they allow for critical insights to be made by all participants. Instead of an exercise in group thinking, participants work off each other to collectively develop better ideas. By breaking down innovation into manageable chunks, HCD tools empower different stakeholders.

The tools can also be used to tackle difficult scenarios. For instance, several of the ethnographic techniques, such as contextual inquiry and walk-a-mile-immersion, encourage members of the design team to identify critical issues by immersing themselves in the environment of the people they’re designing for, enabling them to build empathy for the complex ecosystems that people live, work and play in. The HCD approach also emphasises communicating and capturing ideas in a visual way to foster collaboration and visual thinking, and to identify priorities so that effort is directed toward the most important areas.

As part of the workshop, I got the LUMA handbook of HCD methods and a set of HCD Planning Cards. I used them to map out the sequence of methods I’m going to use in a workshop to generate ideas for improving the hospital service for patients from the inner city community at an Edmonton hospital. Hopefully I’ll be able to give an update on the outcome in this blog.




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