Picture 36A couple weeks ago, my 14 year-old daughter had her wisdom teeth pulled—a routine procedure with, thankfully, routine results. But it illuminated for me, once again, the dire lack of design in our health care system. Even with the fairly simple care instructions my wife Lisa and I were given as Maya left the office of the oral surgeon, we found ourselves furiously scratching notes, staring in confusion at medication labels, and questioning each others interpretation of those instructions over the next few days. Where was the cool deck of cards, or customized downloadable PDF, or (for goodness sakes) iPhone app with the care instructions in colorful graphics, and plain-spoken copy??!!

Of course, this scenario—the lack of empathy-infused communication design in healthcare—was the impetus for our business HealthSimple when we originally launched it in 2004. As I’ve stated many times before in this space, I still believe the category of healthcare offers a vast opportunity for designers with innovative vision.

Here’s a fantastic example of design thinking being applied to the healthcare experience in a refreshing way: Bridget Duffy is the Chief Experience Officer at Cleveland Clinic, and in this video—from the Gel 2008, “a conference and community exploring good experience in all its forms—in business, art, society, technology, and life,” she tells the story of the design of a new hospital gown, among other innovative experiences she is creating. Under her leadership Cleveland Clinic is working to “redesign and transform the patient experience,” and to “humanize the way we deliver medical technology.” Go Bridget!

In a follow up to my last post about Necessity Entrepreneurs
I came across this article from BusinessWeek.com that expands on the topic through a wide range of profiles from a variety of industries, including food, financial services, and technology.