April 11, 2005

Innovating Healthcare Services

Ryan Armbruster, director of operations and design at the Mayo Clinic, was our guest speaker today in Service Design class. He was here to discuss a new initiative at Mayo called SPARC that's about designing healthcare services.

Healthcare has basically been delivered the same way for the last 50 years with little changes; there's very few industries you can say that about. Amazingly, more than 50% of patient satisfaction about healthcare comes through the delivery of that care, not necessarily how effective it was.

SPARC is a program to design better healthcare. It's a program to provide live-environment (read: real patients, real doctors) exploration and experimentation for the development of innovations in healthcare delivery. It's also an attempt to fuse design techniques with scientific rigor. All of the solutions SPARC comes up with need to be measured in some manner.

Started about three years ago, SPARC is both a physical space (a laboratory, although it's never called that, especially around patients), and a methodology. SPARC stands for See (user research, context, stories) Plan (translate stories into opportunities, brainstorming) Act (rapid prototyping) Refine (feedback from the prototypes) and Communicate (disseminate knowledge). SPARC's space was created for doing all these steps. It's embedded within a clinical practice inside the hospital. Modular furniture and movable walls allow for lots of flexibility. It was designed with the Wow Factor in mind; they like it when people say, "I didn't believe the Mayo Clinic could do things like this." It's staffed with people willing to accommodate and execute prototypes, which is very rare in medicine. The staff is mainly a blend of physicians and business professionals, with only a small number of people called designers there. The designers act more as facilitators than as traditional designers. "Design" here is about connecting the needs (especially the latent needs) of the patients with the resources of the Mayo Clinic. It's in the latent needs where true innovation lies.

SPARC isn't about the vision of the future. There are lots of initiatives around "the operating room of the future," but SPARC isn't one of them. It's not concerned with long-term vision; it's a learning lab environment. When something works, they ship it out like any traditional product release. This is how they create value--for patients and for the hospital.

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March 30, 2005

Quality in Service Design Reading

"Quality in new service development: Key concepts and a frame of reference" by Bo Edvardsson from The International Journal of Production Economics.

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The Process of Designing for Service

The process of designing a service is still being developed because it's new. Here are some of the stages and their steps suggested by Shelley Evenson.

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March 17, 2005

Service Design Reading

"Will You Survive the Services Revolution?" by Uday Karmarkar from the Harvard Business Review.

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March 14, 2005

Nature of Experiences Reading

"The Contextual and Dialectical Nature of Experiences" by Sudheer Gupta and Mirjana Vajic from New Service Development: Creating Memorable Experiences

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Designing for Service

I started a new class today: Designing for Service, taught by Shelley Evenson. What is a service, and why bother designing it? Services are all around us. A service is a chain of (sequential, parallel, overlapping and/or recurrent) value-creating activities or events which form a process. Customers often take part in performing different elements in the interactions with employees of the service company for the purpose of achieving a particular result. In service design, the "users" are both the customers and the employees.

Services make up 70% of the economy. (Goods are the other 30%.) It's important to start designing services because good service is good business and a well-designed service can be a great business. Customer expectations are rising too. Fed Ex, with their allowing customers to track their own packages, started the trend of customers expecting things to happen in real-time and with them in control (or seeming control) over the service.

Dematerializing products can have a positive impact on our society and environment as well. By making less products and more services, there is a conceptual shift away from ownership of things. Customers don't have to own the product anymore, just the service. What if, instead of a washer/drier, you instead purchased "laundry service" from Sears?

Services are intangible, but designers are good at leaving tangible traces to experience. We can create the tangible evidence or artifacts of the service experience. So is service design really experience design? Yes and no. A service is a thing, and the experience is the environment of the service. Experiences have personal meanings. You can't design an experience (or activities), but you can provide the environment and tools for activities and experiences to happen. This environment is composed of people, products, and places--a setting with resources with potential for interaction and participation.

Service design is about many different touchpoints that happen over time. A service design language has to function (provide resources) across all levels of the system and as the experience develops among constituents (customers and employees), in stages of time, through different channels/methods of service, and at different touchpoints (the objects themselves).

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