Transitions of Care: Wellcome Collection Workshop
Our service designer and user researcher Jade writes up her experience in participating in Transitions of Care: Wellcome Collection Workshop.
With around 80% of medical errors happening during the transition of care, how can complex medical histories and information be better communicated?
This is the challenge that designer Matt, researcher Madeleine and Dr Leigh explored during two workshops at the Wellcome collection as part of the “Can Graphic Design Save Your Life?” Exhibition.
Dr Leigh describes ‘transitions of care’ as the “movements of patients between different healthcare settings, providers or teams”. He observes that the interaction time is on average four minutes, with around 1,000,000 interactions happening every 36 hours in the UK. His research is looking at how these transitions could be made “safer and more efficient using technology and design”.
Cue Matt and Madeleine from the Helix Centre, a design studio that sits within St Mary’s Hospital. The team works closely with clinicians, patients and researchers like Dr Leigh to design, develop and prototype for “real healthcare problems by translating research into evidence-based solutions”. As a joint collaboration between the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London, the Helix Centre is uniquely placed at the frontline of healthcare.
After being approached by both the Wellcome Collection and Dr Leigh, the Helix Centre saw an opportunity to link the workshops to Dr Leigh’s work. Matt commented that “this gave the workshops a more direct practical outcome and gave us a dedicated and interested clinician to work with to provide the clinical input to the workshop.”
After an introduction by both Dr Leigh and Matt, the rest of the workshop revolved around the following challenge: to visualise a persona’s medical history using low fidelity prototyping materials such as paper.
We kicked off the activities by individually filling out worksheets where we considered what colours and shapes might be associated with medical ‘events’ such as blood tests, surgery, diagnosis, hospital admission… This activity revealed how certain colours and shapes can be used to create a common visual language that can communicate information effectively and at a glance. These worksheets allowed everyone the space to think alone before jumping into the next part of the workshop: a group brainstorming.
The brainstorming started by discussing our persona, Barry. By using personas with fictional medical histories, we were able to think about our ideas using ‘real’ medical information. Barry, became the centre of the conversation, with members of my team discussing how our ideas would work for him, like how we might differentiate between his physical and mental health in his medical history, all while keeping them linked.In my team, I paired up with a fellow participant who had a skill in associating colours to events, while I was more comfortable associating events to shapes. Together we prototyped a patient’s medical timeline which would show Barry’s medical history over time. The other half of our team worked on our second idea: a full body interactive view. One by one, each team presented their designs highlighting some key features and ways that their design might be used.
Overall the workshop was engaging and fun (and I’m not just writing that because my team was voted as having the best idea!). When discussing the workshops with Matt and Dr Leigh, both place a high importance on public engagement and participation. Dr Leigh went on to explain that “too often, when changes are made in healthcare, patients and the public are involved too little or too late. I wanted to ensure that our research and any interventions that we developed were truly 'patient-centered' and included input from the public at an early stage.” Workshops like this one are the perfect platform for brainstorming solutions and discussing the challenges that patients and clinicians experience every day. Matt adds that “public engagement is always a rewarding time spent” as it allows designers to be less introspective.
The workshops are a clear indication of the growing interest in how technology and design can be harnessed to address and improve a number of healthcare challenges. Like Dr Leigh, I hope there will be more opportunities to run healthcare, design and public participation workshops in the future around our current healthcare problems.
Thank you to the Wellcome Collection, Matt and Madeleine from the Helix Centre, Dr Leigh and my fellow workshop participants.
Photos courtesy of Matt from the Helix Centre.
Read more about Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (PSTRC), the group Dr Leigh is undertaking his PhD with.