Applying “Design Thinking” to Solve Healthcare Consumer Engagement Challenges

By John Dobson, Healthcare Practice Director View Comments

Applying “Design Thinking” to Solve Healthcare Consumer Engagement Challenges

In their best-selling book, Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath set out to answer the question of why some ideas “stick”—are embraced and endure—while others don’t. Their answer? A successful, “sticky” solution is one that makes an audience:

• Pay attention
• Understand and remember it
• Agree/believe
• Care, and... be able to act on itThese are the same principles that designers have used for years to develop successful, category-creating products from the Volkswagen Beetle to the Apple iPhone. People embrace these products passionately, with a zeal that sometimes borders on religious devotion, because they speak to their deepest needs—not just functionally and intellectually but emotionally as well. Any solution that fails to meet these criteria—regardless of its intrinsic merits—is likely to fail. 


If the user experience is simple, understandable and, above all, emotionally satisfying—whether we’re talking about a heart-rate monitor, website or smart phone app—people will be apt to embrace and make room for it in their lives.

Healthcare companies will need to approach the new B2C marketplace with similar consumerism strategies, ones that take functional design, user experience and emotional connections into account.

Stealing a few pages from the Apple and Amazon playbooks can’t hurt, because healthcare product offerings will not only need to be attractive and memorable, they will also need to integrate well with technology to dramatically improve user experience.

If healthcare organizations can make web and mobile design—and corresponding processes and technology—simple and easy to navigate (think Amazon) then employees (think consumers) are likely to embrace it and make it their own. For me, this is more than simply an intellectual argument; it’s a business strategy we're advocating for Celerity's healthcare clients.

Celerity is working with healthcare organizations to accelerate B2B2C strategies and solve the problem of apathetic consumer engagement. This is achieved by leveraging Celerity's unique blend of research and strategic planning, process and technology innovation, and analytics.

It can be argued that the foundation of modern commercial civilization has been built on successful design—in architecture, fashion, transportation, telecommunications and any number of consumer offerings, from Frisbees to Facebook. For healthcare executives, using design to rethink web, mobile, and engagement strategies is now their biggest opportunity. With preventable chronic conditions currently representing a $1-trillion drag on the economy, implementing such strategies will be the modern day equivalent of inventing penicillin.

Posted in: Healthcare, Web Design & Development, Affordable Care Act