In the health track, all project teams will work on real problems affecting real healthcare providers and the individuals they serve. They will also interact with real patients, nurses, doctors, and support personnel in solving their design challenges.
This year, the California HealthCare Foundation is playing a central role in supporting the Design for Service Innovation health track. In addition to underwriting aspects of the course, the Foundation has facilitated three important health-related partnerships—San Mateo Medical Center, San Francisco General Hospital, and Ocean-Park Health Center (see side bar). These “safety net” hospitals and clinics serve a high percentage of Medi-Cal and uninsured patients and operate at high capacity with severe resource constraints.
Possible Student Projects
Working with these partners, students will explore projects that deal with workflow optimization and/or improving medical adherence. For example, they might tackle problems like the ones listed below:
- The 6 Minute Walk Test is a common assessment used in pulmonary diagnosis and rehabilitation. However, at an over-crowded hospital, nurses must administer this test in a hectic hallway. The make-shift testing process is frustrating for nurses, awkward for patients, and prone to errors.
- A busy respiratory clinic has a substantial appointment backlog. Walk-in hours are available one morning per week for patients with pressing issues, but the clinic is routinely unable to meet patient demand due, in part, to suboptimal workflows.
- In a space-constrained hospital, a single exam room is used to deliver specialty care in the morning and primary care in the afternoon. Healthcare providers are continually moving necessary equipment in and out of the room and struggle with other difficulties in adjusting the small space to meet their patients’ needs.
- As they rotate through the respiratory clinic, residents have a difficult time keeping up with the dozens of different products they can prescribe to help asthma patients. Each product has a slightly different profile with respect to when/why to prescribe it, how to train patients to use it, insurance coverage (which varies by plan), and likelihood of patient compliance.
Other projects will be available in the area of improving the experience of pediatric patients with chronic conditions as they transition to adult care. The following scenario represents one possible design challenge in this space:
- Because the children’s hospital is over-burdened , it must refer its pediatric patients with chronic conditions to the adult hospital when they come of age. These transitions often don't go well, with the possibility of information being lost in the transition and the "new adult" patients feeling alienated and misunderstood in the new environment.
The final portfolio of health track projects will be announced in early November.
How Are Design Challenges Identified?
The projects chosen for the 2011-2012 Design for Service Innovation health track stem from work performed in the Summer and Fall by two graduates of last year’s course, David Janka and Ioulia Kachirskaia. Over a period of several months, David and Ioulia met with representatives from the partner organizations and conducted extensive observations in their facilities to identify “pain points.” Now, these needs are being categorized, assessed, and filtered in conjunction with the teaching team to identify meaningful projects that can be effectively addressed by this year’s students.
In her role as one of one of two Design for Service Innovation Fellows at the Stanford GSB, Ioulia will continue supporting the course this year as a mentor and coach to the student teams during Winter quarter. She will also assist teams that decide to pursue their solutions beyond the 10-week quarter. Ioulia has a PhD in cell/molecular biology, was a postdoctoral fellow in epithelial biology, and is passionate about design thinking and health innovation. Read more about her on the Our Team page.