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Smarter Healthcare: Expanding patient engagement

This article first appeared in Design Museum Magazine

On a per-capita basis, the U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other nation, but health outcomes rank only 11th among peer countries. Life expectancy in the U.S. is about five years lower than it is in Japan, Italy, Switzerland, or Spain, and maternal health, on average, lags even further behind many more countries.

These sobering statistics point to the fact that the U.S. desperately needs a more patient-centered healthcare system, one that encourages people to maintain wellness, avoid risk factors, and better manage chronic conditions/comorbidities. We believe in improving the healthcare system by redesigning it to work smarter for patients. While the pandemic quickly led to creative workarounds and new solutions in a range of industries, this is an opportune time to also experiment with the entire system of healthcare in this country, pushing new solutions further and faster.

Pillars of Patient Engagement

To work smarter for patients, U.S. healthcare needs to move away from its break-fix mentality, with healthcare feeling like a series of disjointed transactions. Instead, we need to design a simpler, more proactive, continuous- care environment in which people are partners with their care team, rather than consumers in need of services. To achieve this, we envision six pillars, working interdependently, of a Patient Engagement Strategy:

  1. Transform Points of Care
  2. Leverage Technology
  3. Apply Behavioral Economics
  4. Turn Data into Wisdom
  5. Shape the End-to-End Experience
  6. Find the Value and Transform It

If broadly conceived and implemented, design offers high-potential impact to improve health and longevity, while reducing the cost of care. In our long-running national healthcare debate, many solutions have been proposed (Medicare for All, expansion or abolition of the ACA, single payer), yet none can succeed unless people are put at the heart of the program.

Bill Hartman is the Head of Innovation Strategy at Essential Design, part of PA Consulting

Click here to read the full Design Museum article

Contact the author

Contact the Americas healthcare team