DESIGNING FOR THE FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE: PART ONE

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Here at Locum’s Nest, we understand that for our product to be truly effective, it has to be accessible to all our users - new and existing. Sounds fairly straightforward but, in reality, it is probably one of the hardest things any product team has to face – a never-ending cycle of thinking, testing, building and learning. 

Hello, my name is Jason Peart and I am Head of Design at Locum’s Nest. 

Here, I will take a little time to explain some of the ins and outs of what goes into transforming and developing our vision from concept to reality whilst also explaining the thinking that got us here, over a series of posts. 

So, what has Healthcare’s relationship with design been like over the years? 

In a nutshell… relatively bad! 

I mean that with no malice – it is based on years of personal experience with various healthcare touch points (this isn’t my first rodeo after all). My main problem has always been that, while healthcare is something we all need, the UX (user experience) surrounding it seems to lack that emotional touch: 

Compassion and Empathy  

In general, healthcare designs feel cold and uncaring – but, when you actually come into contact with the many doctors, nurses and the many other workers within the NHS, this couldn’t be further from the truth…  

So, does design within healthcare mirror the better elements? 

Many years ago, the medical profession was seen as a privileged practice, and the institutions that taught and practiced medicine considered themselves the sole guardians and distributors of this particular knowledge. Inevitably, this led to a more business-like approach to the way medicine and care were served to the masses. Similarities can be drawn with the banking industry, where the rise of cool new banking services such as Monzo (formerly Mondo) are currently shaking up the banking institutions of old because they have given people more control and freedom over their own money.

What’s important to take from this is the real disconnect between the service provided and the very human parts of how we interact with what we see – a case of being told rather than heard in order to adapt. How many times have we all heard: 

“Oh, don’t like hospitals… They scare me!”

“It’s all so grey and cold…”

“I can’t quite put my finger on it… but it just feels weird” 

These reactions relate to GP surgeries, hospitals and clinics alike. But, the effects seem to have even trickled down into the many other parts of the whole profession, and more to my point… design. Think about design in healthcare and what comes to mind? Lots of greens, blues and whites: extremely clinical, cold and impersonal. When you think about it, the very service we rely on for such an important amenity as medical care is the place that most of us dread going to or generally have negative feelings towards! 

This has all led to quite a frustrating point in today’s society where the patient feels like they’ve been left out in the cold! However, I do believe that this has started to change over the last few years with smaller companies and start-ups entering the world of healthcare and reinventing its current landscape. We know that we, as users, now respond to warmer, more creative and user-friendly platforms, which have encouraged us to find new ways to innovate (Headspace, Sleepio, Babylon are but a few platforms which do just this). By going down this path, platforms such as these found that there was a clear increase in engagement with their users. A case of taking what was once the language of professionals and really simplifying the experience for everyone. 

The revolution is well and truly under way and it’s about time too… 

So let’s look at the other end of the spectrum, and by that I mean creating healthcare products and platforms for doctors, nurses and the many many other healthcare workers out there. Do the same rules apply? Do we need to spend just as much consideration for them? Again, the short answer is… yes! 

A huge strain on so many hospitals and GP surgeries is that they still rely on old IT systems for their day-to-day business; platforms designed (and I mean designed lightly) by software developers for software developers. It usually takes months to get used to these systems and, in most cases, all human logic has been thrown out the window! Why should doctors and hospital rota coordinators suffer? Every type of user should be accounted for – from the tech savvy to that one person who still uses their Nokia 3310 (no judgement here)! Healthcare needs products to help both ends of the equation, which is why we, at Locum’s Nest, are working on a 360 degree approach where everyone who comes into contact or uses our platform has the same straightforward experience. 

So, hopefully this was an interesting segway into the next few posts where I’ll begin to explain some of the processes we use at Locum’s Nest to create and innovate.

Jason Peart, Head of Design at Locum’s Nest

Part Two: …So where did we start at Locum’s Nest?

Jason Peart