Learning a New Model of Care & Design: How Healthcare Changed My Focus

ENGINEERING Mar 30, 2021

By: Lorenza Ramirez Hoyos, Product Design Manager at Commure

To read this post in Spanish, click here.

Who am I?

With a major in Industrial Design, I started working as a UX Designer at a consulting agency 5 years ago. Working with multiple entrepreneurs made me realize the positive impact that my job as a designer could have if carried out using a thoughtful and user-centric methodology at its core. I quickly learned that building digital products only for financial gain caused projects to fail in early stages because they were often unable to effectively solve a specific user need or problem.

In my career, my focus has centered on creating high-impact experiences that meet basic needs. At first, in my work designing a platform to facilitate the communication between job seekers and employers and then later in building platforms that intuitively improve the healthcare space at Commure. If my experience resonates with you, I encourage you to keep reading.

A New Model of Care and Design

When I joined Commure, I was presented with the challenge to design the future of care based on real necessities from care teams, clinicians, and developers building clinical workflows. Commure is a company that empowers innovation across the healthcare ecosystem with a clear north star of bettering the way health systems and care are currently handled. This was a marked departure from the design needs of any other project I had previously worked on. Our model for healthcare design comes with a higher level of responsibilities and challenges that I would like to share today.

Understanding the Industry

Healthcare is a complex ecosystem and it is challenging to understand all the little pieces that integrate together to form the full health system experience. For example, how care teams manage patient information through EHRs, HIPAA regulations, or the use of FHIR,  a standard that defines how we exchange healthcare information electronically. Current common healthcare products have not been designed to understand basic human needs and problems. As a result, they produce frustration, dissatisfaction, and inefficiencies. Working to understand the complex healthcare context is crucial to designing a better future for these products.

Establishing Basic User Relations

Creating relationships with users to make more informed design decisions in any design field is a challenge. However, there is a higher barrier of entry and relation when attempting this in healthcare. We are not real users, and cannot relate to them in the same way we would when designing a music streaming app. Therefore, collaboration becomes one of the most key processes we can focus on, as there is a higher amount of concepts, contexts and information that a designer who has not worked in health could not innately understand. Working through a strong research process and seeking constant cross-team validation is part of our daily routine. I have learned that figuring out what the right questions are, who to ask about them, and how to ask them has had an incredibly positive impact on my decision-making and the effectiveness of my design.

Nurture Simplicity

Current healthcare platforms are one of the most complex systems in the world. These products are created to help care teams be more efficient but often result in more inefficient or confusing systems. One of the main reasons for this failure is that much of the current healthcare software has not been designed with the user at the center of every decision. To add even more complexity, the 24/7 importance of these workflows can stump innovators trying to build, update, and maintain modern care systems in active environments. Our goal is to help developers, innovators, and clinicians alike make a difference by reaching better outcomes using intuitive platforms which simplify their current way of work.

The Opportunity

I have learned that tackling these challenges as a designer in healthcare is not an easy task but it is incredibly rewarding. Working at Commure has given me the opportunity to realize that these challenges are also opportunities, not only to modernize the experiences that users have with digital platforms, but also my own approach to design.

I want more designers to start seeing these challenges as opportunities to grow and to understand the positive impact their work and attention could bring. I want more designers to feel what I have felt since I decided to become a healthcare designer, that I am helping change the lives of others for the better along with my own. I want to be a designer that looks to create a greater positive impact in the world I live in. I hope that my experience encourages individuals to risk their comfort and venture from the world of basic design and tackle a more difficult ordeal. This industry is in desperate need of more empathy, more thoughtful design and more products built for the purpose of improving care teams lives. It is time to move forward and embrace the uncertainty within challenging design, not only for those around but for ourselves, because it gives us the opportunity to grow and move forward as designers.

If you are interested in working with thoughtful designers and want to shape the future of modern care delivery, please check out our open positions here.

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