Using Small Step Service Design Thinking to Create and Implement Services that Improve Patient Care

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Service Design and Service Thinking in Healthcare and Hospital Management: Theory, Concepts, Practice


Service design and service thinking in many industries concentrate on providing a competitive advantage. In healthcare, better service design focused on the patient and provider experience can also improve patient outcomes, for example, by ensuring healthcare regimens are followed. Improving patient care while concurrently minimizing costs requires both big leap and small step design thinking. Healthcare organizations that use service design and service thinking innovations are often touted for big leap, system-wide design innovations. While these types of big leap design change are important, small step design thinking can also help healthcare organizations make service changes with significant results. This chapter will present two case studies illustrating small step design thinking in healthcare. Small step service design focuses on processes that may seem routine or mundane but are integral to improving patient service experience and patient health outcomes. Examples include a patient appointment process that was designed to address research showing a patient is more likely to attend a clinical appointment if that appointment is set before the patient leaves the office of the current clinician visit and a design change at a city fire department that improved access and saved taxpayer dollars. These case studies will show how small step service design thinking can be used to achieve improved patient care and can be used by other healthcare organizations to guide their service thinking.

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