Service Design Brainstorm

In a previous post I talked about service design after having treatment as an outpatient at a large teaching hospital. In my recent seminar we brainstormed this further using post-its instead of a mind map.

We wrote the first things that came into our head and then here we are sorting them into some kind of order!  Its actually quite tricky when your new to this kind of thing.

Once we were happy with the order we had to mark the two columns which we thought were the most important – this was interesting as the majority picked directions and staff.

3 minute brainstorm – in no particular order – Points that were highlighted under the staff heading were politeness, nurses, reduce staff stress, doctors, helpful staff, touch screens, access information via computer screens not through people, more staff, compassion, friendly, better informed staff – need to know more in general as well as their training, smiles, communication, the receptionist able to ask questions that will help doctors.

Could this mean that the key to better service with in the hospital is the happiness/training of the staff – before things can change the service designers would have to speak to everyone who provides and uses the service.  Briefly some points which spring to mind;

  • reception is the first point of contact, the receptionists should be able to carry out their work competently but have empathy for the patients/visitors to the hospital – they should also have suitable equipment and enough staff to cope with demand.
  • the nurses both agency and permanent  should be briefed thoroughly on how their department is run;  there should be adequate staff to enable them to cope so that in an emergency they are able to deal with the patients and  outpatients who are in their care. Training should be thorough and although theoretical training is important, more hands on patient care training ( as in the old days) should be given.
  • Doctors should be allowed more time with patients then the consultation wouldn’t be rushed, the doctor would have time to make notes afterwards and the patients wouldn’t feel awkward and forget to mention things.  Telephone calls should not be put through to the doctor when he is consulting (as in my case).

This is a huge task which involves money and reorganisation and a rather large service design group!

service design

Over the last two weeks we’ve had another two awesome lectures, one on Service Design was delivered by Professor Tom Inns.

We all know of the many services available; leisure, travel, tourism, business, financial, insurance and health.  These services are all similar in that they involve an action or help that one person can give to another but unlike the manufacturing industry doesn’t end in a finished product.  Services cannot be stored, the results cannot be touched but the outcome can often be seen.  Services cannot be transported and therefore cannot be sold as manufactured products to interested parties, its quality is usually dependant on the giver and its often this quality which will determine whether customers remain loyal.

Service designers look at the customer experience, the employee experience and if the service is offering what it intended and in the best and most cost effective way which benefits everyone.

I’ve been looking at a service that I’m in the process of going through – the services of my GP and referral to hospital and I feel there are lots of ways the whole process could be considerably improved!

Below I’ve used a service blueprint, this notes the sequence of events of the service experience, it notes the physical evidence; the touchpoints and the part the customers cannot see; below the line of visibility

From the first appointment with the GP there is so much waiting and wondering and the whole time scale just makes anxieties grow.  Backward and forward from GP to Nurse and back again then the referral to a Consultant. There are many things I could comment on but one which I won’t forget  when eventually attending for my appointment at a huge teaching hospital was asking for directions to the relevant department; I was sent to 3 different places before I got to the correct place!

24/06/10 - Hmmm which way?

So here is just one area where design could help and improve the customer/patient experience don’t get me started on waiting times.  Signs within the hospital are so confusing the area is too fussy with cafes and shops and although a big area it feels very closed in.  Once you get to your department the nurses are very nice but make mistakes and these are silly mistakes and don’t do anything for customer/patient anxiety (my wrist band had me down as a male! I am quite obviously female even my name is a feminine name)



I also asked about the procedure and could they explain what would happen, I was told that she (the nurse) was only helping cover in the department that day and couldn’t.   All the little things add up; where I should have felt confident at ease and reassured I felt anxious, overwhelmed and scared.

A Service Design team would look at the experience from all levels, the physical evidence, the external and internal interaction, the service user and members of staff and how the building works.

An example can be found here with a case study carried out by Kipum Michael Lee for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre. If you have time click on the link and read through the pdf it’s an example of how service design can help a very busy hospital and on page 34 is a service blueprint of the hospital.