‘Human-centered’ design sparks innovation

'Collaboratory' team creates change from a different angle

In early 2015, a small team known as hiCOlab (health care innovation collaboratory) began an effort to create positive change in the way we provide health care. Guided by human-centered design – focused on understanding the experience of the people we are trying to impact – team members talked at length with many people inside and outside the UVM Medical Center to learn how they view and interact with our health care system.

Today, hiCOlab is an officially operating entity. Innovation Director Abigail Trutor-Mead, UVM Medical Center Lead Healthcare Experience Designer Jeremy Beaudry and Innovation Coordinator Emilee Hoffman worked this summer with three college interns to build on the initial ideas and research of last year’s interns around managing expectations of care.

Service to patients

hiCOlab is ultimately about creating solutions that work for everyone, says The University of Vermont Health Network Medical Group President Claude Deschamps, MD. “We need to elevate ourselves to get ahead of the game.”

At its core, this work is about understanding both our patients and those who serve them, says Trutor-Mead.

Human-centered design’s problem-solving method integrates the needs of people, the possibilities of technology and the requirements of social, environmental and business sustainability. Working with science, human-centered design can be used to transform the way our community experiences health care.

Building a Network resource

While initial efforts will focus on access to care and innovative service solutions, “my ultimate vision is that this will be a resource for the entire Network, the provider group and the patients,” Deschamps says. He sees hiCOlab as a launching pad and support for anyone in the network who has a great idea, working with departments and committees to support innovations aligned with the organization’s strategic goals.

hiCOlab’s current project is looking at improving conversations between patients and providers to help patients comply with their prescribed care plan.

“I expect the hiCOlab to be a constant catalyst for change,” says Deschamps. “This is how we, as a Network, will continue to evolve as we work together to serve the needs of our staff and our patients.”