During eight months six persons in two cross-disciplinary teams have worked together towards innovation at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm. The teams included competences within management, engineering, medicine and industrial design and the work was conducted under the initiative Clinical Innovation Fellowships1. The task was to identify clinical needs for the hospital, and to work on innovation for a few of the needs. The Emergency Department in Huddinge and the Gastro Center Surgery were the host clinics involved. I was the industrial designer participating.
Through observations at the hospital over 1000 clinical needs were identified. Several of them were related to the patientsʼ experience and interpretation of the situation. To meet these needs the question posed in this study was whether generic information from the hospital might help patients to better cope with their physical condition.
To address these questions we designed a generic, patient-centered information folder anticipating most common questions, preparing the patient for the medical call and helping the patient to understand and remember the doctorʼs assessment. We based the information in the folder on our observations from the emergency room and iterated 4 versions of a folder with patients, doctors, nurses, administrative personnel and clinic directors.
The studies are still ongoing, but several preliminary results have become visible. The patient highly appreciates information as long as it is easy to access and does not impose the patient to act upon it. Our theory is also that information of how a typical visit at the clinic may look like, in combination with frequently asked questions will reduce the personnelʼs need to answer medically irrelevant questions hence being able to focus on their work. Information addressed includes simple things as parking, eating/drinking, reasons for long waiting or nearest pharmacy. Patient strengthening parts of the folder include a list of what the doctor most probably will ask when first meeting the patient. This enables the patient to reflect upon these things and to prepare him-/herself for the medicalcall, probably resulting in higher quality time during the first patient-doctor conversation. The folder also includes a checklist with questions that the patient ought to have gotten answers to before being discharged. Understanding the doctorsʼ assessment will most probably have several positive consequences such as increased feeling of control and thereby possibly higher compliance.
Our studies seem to show that generic patient-centered information at an emergency room might have several positive effects. On the one hand for the patient through higher understanding and more positive experiences resulting in higher compliance and patient safety. On the other hand for the staff through less interruptions and more effective doctor-patient dialogues resulting in lower stress and less time spent on irrelevant questions. To test these hypotheses, the folder will be printed in 10.000 copies to be tested summer/fall 2011.
NORDCODE seminar 2011: Design of space and performance, Roskilde University, Denmark, September 28-30, 2011