Future-Focused Healthcare Design - Patient check-in with iPads

It’s not often an architect gets to reimagine the future of healthcare

FastCo Design has published a deep-dive article into the design of the University of Minnesota Health’s (M Health) new Clinics & Surgery Center – a five-story, 342,000 sf outpatient center in Minneapolis – that infuses consumer-industry design ideas to make it more patient-centric, efficient and future-ready. The article, titled, “What Health Care Designers Can Learn from The Apple Store,” focuses on how CannonDesign and M Health took leading ideas from retail, air travel and office design to equip the health system to best deliver care in the decades ahead. CannonDesign Health Practice Leader Mike Pukszta is featured prominently throughout the piece.

The full article can be read online. Below are interesting excerpts from the FastCo Design story.

How airlines fixed their biggest customer-service problem

When Pukszta and his team were thinking about the scale of changes they wanted to make, they looked to one of the biggest user experience turnarounds of the last decade: airline check in. In the past, checking in meant standing in line, talking to a customer-service person, and receiving a paper ticket. Now, you can check into an airport before you arrive, obtain an e-ticket on your smartphone, and – aside from security checkpoints – board a plane without having to talk to a single person. Travelers also have the option of using automated kiosks to check-in, change or upgrade seats, and handle baggage needs. It was about reaching the final point – the airplane – the fastest, most efficient way.

Pukstzta saw a parallel with the user experience of health care, which requires a lot of paperwork and involves many steps before reaching the end, “destination” – a doctor. “It’s how do we get patient to the value point quickest,” he says.

Open staff airs encourage movement and collaborationThe ultimate retail experience expert: Apple

M Health conducted focus groups with people who were current patients to figure out what common health experiences were frustrating and what might alleviate the pain points. Subjects were also asked to think about experiences outside of health care that they liked, and what exactly kept them coming back – an important business strategy for health care providers who want to retain a strong patient base. Time – and efficiency – were common threads. And unsurprisingly, Apple frequently came up as an inspiration. In fact, the computer company’s retail temples have already influenced healthcare design elsewhere. “They mostly wanted convenience and for things to go more smoothly,” said University of Minnesota Physicians COO Mary Johnson. “People have busy lives these days and they love the idea of doing things ahead of time.”

Before an appointment at the Clinics & Surgery Center patients can fill out all their intake paperwork online. When they step into the center, there’s no formal reception desk. “Concierges with tablets and mobile devices greet them and check them in – an experience similar to that of checking into the Apple store.

Future-Focused Healthcare Design - Clinical areas

On designing for patient utilization

It wasn’t about building more to accommodate more; it was about making sure every space was continually in use to maximize its utility. To that end, they looked for a technical solution to manage the flow of people. They came up with a system called CareConnect. M Health places a location-tracking badge on everyone in the clinic: patients, doctors, nurses, maintenance staff, and son on. A series of sensors built into the ceiling records the location of each badge every three seconds.

Tracking the location of each patient lets M Health accomplish a number of things. Ironically, it helps with privacy: instead of calling someone’s name out in a waiting area, a provider can walk right up to them. The system can also tell just how long someone has been waiting. If they’ve spent more than 15 minutes in the waiting area, or 10 minutes in an exam room., an alert goes off. By tracking their location once a patient is admitted, M Health knows which exam rooms are free and which are in use. Once a visit is wrapped up and a patient leaves an exam room, it signals the maintenance team that it’s ready to be cleaned for the next patient. This allows for a near constant cycle of use for each space.

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