Saturday, January 30, 2016

Human Center Design to Improve Productivity in Health Business

I am at the UCLA Health Business Association 2nd Annual Conference and attending the Empathy in Business session.

Human Center Design (HCD) attempts to understand needs of the clients and people involved in the process and works toward improving the status quo to improve key performance indicators (value = improving efficiency, reducing length of stay, reducing utilization).

Here are some insights I gathered from the session:
  • If a problem is identified, putting a band-aid on a problem is insufficient
  • It is critical to understand root-cause analysis to determine what the underlying problem is. 
    • understanding root cause has advantages:
      • engagement: when you try to  understand the needs of the people, then people feel part of the solution
      • addressing deeply seeded problems can provide long term solution vs a temporary patch
      • sometimes, if you flip the situation and see the "problem" as the rational approach, then you can develop a creative answer to address the problem.
        • for example, veterans who come to the ER regularly,  use a lot of healthcare resources. If you see the Vets' habit as the rational approach (i.e. housing, warm food and water), then you can find the solution to the real problem. In this case, the VA hired a lawyer who connected social worker resources in the ER. As a result, the return on investment (lawyer) yielded a 7 fold return on investment.
        • Now, social worker service is standard of care nationally at all VA Hospital
      • Payers (ie CMS) are offering incentives to address human center problems: for example,  CMS is offering millions of dollars in funding to screen for social needs when patients see their doctors (i.e. household mold which can be easily treated)
        • an emerging effort is to develop a Yelp like database to evaluate psycho-social needs and connect them to local resources
  • Human Center Design vs. performance improvement / Quality Improvement: Similarities & Differences
    • All patient centered
    • Human Center Design focuses on empathy: to identify what the patient really needs
      • identify the deeper needs of the customers and people engaged in the process
      • what are the insights of the people and find solutions to fit their needs
      • in contrast,..
    • Six sigma is an Quantitative approach to identify cause of problems
    • Lean is an attempt to Eliminate waste
    • Divergence exist when you look into the empathy, but all three work hand-in-hand.
      • HCD interviews patients and staff to understand the problems/issues
      • Lean team will then time everything
      • Six sigma will the evaluate statistics 
  • When implementing a project, the team should be mindful to HCD for help with product design (and minimum product value), feasibility of the project and ability to scale it. 
  • Although it appears counter intuitive to spend so much time with people and patients to understand the problem, when institutions can put human centered  infrastructure and policies which are human, then institutions can benefit from tremendous return on investment.

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