Healthcare is one of those things in life that should never ever be compromised. Ideally, we want our hospital visits to be as infrequent as possible. But if we really, really need it, we want our visits to be quick, thorough, seamless, and stress-free. Imagine this. If you were really sick, you definitely wouldn't want to spend half an hour looking for parking, complete the endless tedious paperwork, wait in a cramped lifeless room with other patients (coughing, sneezing, bleeding...the list goes on), or get to see your doctor for less than 5 minutes after over half a day of traveling and waiting.
There are so many pain points when it comes to healthcare delivery systems. Not just in Thailand, but in many countries around the world. These pain points are even stronger and more difficult to address when it comes to public hospitals, with bureaucracies, a huge demand, a small supply, inefficiency, and stagnation.
The healthcare delivery system in public hospitals is one of the seven focus areas and pilot projects Thailand's Government Innovation Lab has been working hard to address. As mentioned in My Experience and in my post, break, build & bridge, the i-Team leading and implementing this pilot project consists of talented and hardworking professors from King Mongkut's University, experienced physicians, experts in the healthcare industry, including government officials from Ministry of Public Heath, multiple teams from Pranangklao Hospital (our pilot hospital), and younger generations like me. To achieve the ultimate goal of improving the quality and efficiency of public services, the iTeam has been very proactive and hands-on. We don't just talk among ourselves in a confined meeting room or limit the scope of work to our areas of expertise and assumptions. We get out of our comfort zones, conduct field research again and again, collaborate with internal stakeholders of Pranangklao Hospital, engage with all segments of patients, and will eventually design our prototypes based on real data collected from the ground up and outside-in (customers back to the core healthcare delivery system) rather than top-down and inside-out.
To kick-start this mega project, iTeam members have been holding our meetings at Pranangklao Hospital every week to meet and identify problem areas with its top level executives, as well as its employees from different departments. These departments include IT, pharmacy, finance and accounting, and the nurse team to name a few. After listening to the internal stakeholders and actually walking through the entire customer journey from beginning to end, many pain points all come down to:
1. IT infrastructure - the need for IT to help eliminate human errors, reduce the complexity of the entire customer journey, create seamless and smooth transitions from point A to point B (and so on) and from beginning to end, and keep the entire process well-organized and consistent
2. Zoning and service flow - the need to understand the big picture: how different zones, functions, and processes work in conjunction with each other and on their own, traffic within the hospital, bottlenecks, and so on. This part of the pilot project is done through observation and the analysis of the hospital's (multiple) floor plans and existing service design
3. Customer experience - the need to paint and understand the whole picture of our customer profile, journey, and experience. Yesterday we conducted customer interviews, observed patterns, spotted anomalies and questions that would need to be discussed and explained later, and analyzed the customer experience in the context of people (e.g. who they interact with, directly and indirectly, actively and passively), their objects (e.g. what they wear, what they bring with them), environment (e.g. the mood and atmosphere around them, whether it's loud or quiet, peaceful or stressful), message (e.g. what are the messages around them? instructions? warnings? messages of encouragement? food for thought?), and service (e.g. services that are being delivered to them, knowingly and unknowingly). The fun part was probably when a professor from King Mongkut's University took on the role of a patient and went through all the processes involved, from registration to payment. Putting herself in a customer's shoes really put things in perspective for us and helped us understand the pain points (e.g. from arriving at the hospital at 7:30 am to seeing the doctor at 9:00 am to receiving blood test results at almost 2:00 pm) and complexity (e.g. multiple stops and stations before seeing the doctor and not knowing where to go, when to go, what to do first) involved.
It's amazing how much we achieved and learned over the course of 1-2 months. So far, working for Thailand's Government Innovation Lab and particularly this public hospital pilot project has been such a unique and interesting experience for me. It's truly Design Thinking at work when you literally follow your customers' footsteps, sit next to them, talk to them, engage with them in meaningful ways, and even take on their role to understand what it truly feels like in their position. This post is simply a quick update on the progress and direction of this mega project. We still have a long way to go from where we are to implementation. Having said that, the hard work, ambition, and true commitment of every iTeam member will undoubtedly get us there.
I'm so proud and humbled to be part of such an amazing team that devotes so much time, effort, and positive energy to drive our country forward, one pilot project at a time!