Systemic Healthcare Change from Within

Every year the Health Experience Design conference brings together patients and providers, health systems and health insurers, designers and developers. We meet to discuss the state of healthcare. At the same time, we explore ways to improve the experience. This year the theme was systemic healthcare change – and I’ve rarely been more inspired.

What does systemic healthcare change require? Here’s what the speakers at HxD recommend.

Build Healthy Behaviors

Steve Downs spoke on the importance of designing everyday life to be healthier. In his talk he showcased how many activities are intended to be added to already busy schedules. He highlighted the value of products and programs like Blue Apron or f.lux that don’t ask people to do anything differently than they’re already doing, but instead take on some steps for them.

Meet the Needs of Many Cultures

In the health literacy track (obviously one I care deeply about), Benjamin Tingey explored cultural competency. He reminded us that literacy doesn’t apply solely to the English language. Providers looking to connect with their patients need to understand first what language they speak.

Tingey also reminded us that culture is about more than language. For example, culture embodies how people feel about themselves. And in healthcare, culture can impact how they want to communicate. Good cultural competency can provide patients with a sense of ownership over their care.

What the Healthcare System can Learn from Fish

In perhaps the most surprising keynote of the day, Cheryl Dahle talked about… fish. Her work in transitioning the fishing industry to be more sustainable taught her many of the same lessons we in healthcare are learning. First and foremost, that we’re playing the long game.

Systemic healthcare change is difficult. It’s not going to happen all at once. We’re making changes now that will take affect in 5 or 10 years. To do that, we need to have faith. We need to believe in one another, support one another, and keep working for a better patient experience.

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