Human Factors

Designing for healthcare part 3: The complexity of simplicity

You can probably point to a medical device or healthcare service that left you feeling dissatisfied or, even worse, disrespected.

Delve has put together a 4-part series on designing the opposite—how to effectively deliver and profitably commercialize human-centered healthcare solutions.

Part 1 (this piece) is about selecting a long-term vision.
Part 2 is about mapping your way to seamless integration.
Part 3 is about the complexity of simplicity.
Part 4 is about empathy.

Here's part 3.

Making the Complex Simple

It is pretty easy to get the designers, developers and engineers iterating on a solution that addresses the user needs, pain points and gaps you prioritized. Because healthcare is so complex, it is particularly important to keep your solution as simple as possible.

Making the complex simple, or ‘simplexity’ requires diligence in both true iteration (build, test, learn) and designing the system and the details equally well.

Make sure your company’s innovation process and your design and development talent are continually looking at the details and understand the implications to the system and entire experience.

When they are looking at the system and experience, they need to continually zoom into the details. When they are working in the weeds of design details, they need to continually zoom out to make sure their decisions stay true to the bigger system and experience. This helps ensure that you don’t end up with over-engineered solutions or empty ideas that don’t deliver on the experience or North Star. Last, it is critical to make sure your team is set up for success and has an empowered design champion, a well-managed and intentional design process, and well-aligned performance metrics to keep them focused and motivated.

If you are familiar with Lean Startup principles, the process begins zoomed out and moves very quickly into the details. It works well and may be best suited for startups or simple products where a big failure can be easily overcome. Alternatively, a ‘fat process’ may be required for well-established enterprises, high-stakes opportunities or more complex products (i.e., hardware) and services.

In the case of healthcare, designing in some “insurance” (building in more features early on than is typical in a Lean process) may protect from a catastrophic failure along the way from which it would be very difficult to recover. In short, be intentional in how you will address the system-level design experience and the design details of interactions to ensure that you design a simple, user-friendly experience that is intuitive and effective. Regardless of your business approach to innovation, the diligence in iteration (the cycle of build, test, revise, repeat) cannot be stressed enough, especially in healthcare. First, if you are designing medical device requiring FDA clearance, you will need formative studies during the submission process to evidence that you have

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