The biggest problem that I face in designing a solution in healthcare is in providing customer delight. This is because, my entire education and training has revolved around finding the correct answers and the thought that something maybe suboptimal or even incorrect is akin to a loss of manhood.
As a medical student, I often wondered what the fuss was about in optimally treating people, but more than two decades of clinical experience has taught me that medicine, especially human behaviour is not always exact science and it is only empathy and continuous iteration will move us in the right path towards success.
Success to me is a simple, long term solution to a very complex problem, which alleviates the pains of the patient and the person, easy to use which delights the client that he now encourages other to use. The biggest problem that we face in healthcare is the inability to dissociate the patient from the person. It is the fine line between care and intrusion when breached that causes resistance and rejection. How clear do we need to stay from that line is a matter of judgement which is ruled by extremely personal reasons and has nothing to do with either the socioeconomic or educational attainment of the person. To find a solution of both subjective and objective needs of a person and working in an extremely sanitised legal framework is a challenge. The question of course becomes more difficult when extrapolated to a wider population context.
With the ubiquitous availability and encouragement to build more technology, we are developing a tendency to leverage more and more technology in healthcare with perfectly good intentions. Some of these should definitely stand the test of time. But many may enjoy initial success, but the long term viability maybe questionable. The most important question is to understand that the bulk of the problem lies in dealing with the chronically ill person. In this group, sometimes dealing with the person becomes more important and the challenges are daily over a lifetime. Many of us are happy seeing good 5-year data, but from an overall perspective what is 5 years in the life span of a person with diabetes.
So, the investment and design needs to be like developing infrastructure where the real returns are over a much longer period. It is more important to develop processes, thoughts and culture which will create the environment for further innovation. This will also help innovators understand client behaviours better and clients will also be tuned to a slightly changed style of practice. The difference in healthcare is that though necessary, innovation directly affects the human body and lives. Greater effort is needed to win the confidence of the person and in most cases ill or potentially ill people, who may have different psyches. Another issue is that a solution means instant relief and gratification for some, which is difficult to fulfill.
In my personal experience, I`ve learnt more about ill people outside the clinical setting, when they opened up more and really began to understand what really ailed them and their illness was not always the primary concern. Secondly, different people`s response as well as approach to disease are different. People communicate about their problems differently, some are open, some would only speak to certain people, so even extensive research may not provide accurate results.
So there are no right or wrong answers in healthcare and a rocky road awaits all those who chose to tread this path. But that is the thrill with a cause.