THE BLOG
09/18/2013 05:52 pm ET Updated Nov 18, 2013

Human-First Healthcare

From broken bones to kidney stones (yes, I had kidney stones when I was seven years old), my brothers and I practically lived in the hospital when we were young. A few hours in the emergency room seemed like a good day.

Eventually, we grew tired of the wait. So when I split my foot open on a shell playing beach football as a teenager, we decided not to go to the hospital. Instead, we sealed my foot with Krazy Glue, the cyanoacrylate adhesive cousin to the medical glue applied to my face the year prior. We were not going to sit in another waiting room for a product or service that simply was not good enough.

You already refuse to wait for your consumer products, why wait for healthcare? If you download an app on your phone and it takes more than 15 seconds to open, do you use it a second time? Do you recommend it? You rate it 1 star and demand the developer fixes it.

Apple issued a promise to make their Maps app better, Microsoft did a complete 180 on their Xbox One policies and Twitter overhauled their infrastructure. Why? Because consumers demanded a higher standard.

Should we hold healthcare to at least equivalent standards of quality, trust, and speed? The short answers are yes, yes and yes.

The foundation of healthcare is the outcome not the user experience. We ask our healthcare professionals, "Can you fix this [insert patient diagnosis here]?" Of course we should prioritize the outcome, but why should we do so at the cost of experience? We wait for hours, we receive subpar concierge service, and we pay out the nose for the fix.

Would you go to Starbucks if you had to wait 40 minutes in line for a lukewarm cup of $20 coffee? Of course not. You can get your coffee fix elsewhere. You do not always have the choice in healthcare. You are likely stuck with the hospital or the doctor that your insurance provider will cover.

You are not an outcome. You are a person. You should be able to ask for more of your healthcare. And we should empower the people that work in healthcare to live in a paradigm where it is possible to do and be better.

Care quality is the rhetorical feather in the outcome cap. It's a marketing tool. It's an afterthought. It needs to be the focal point from which healthcare outcomes are derivative.

Companies and institutions in the healthcare space should reverse the standard process of creation from outcome-driven to human-driven design:

  1. Talk with the end-users.
  2. Do research.
  3. Prove outcomes.

Enter with no product. No salesmen. Just pen, paper and a willingness to be wrong about everything.

Let's take a page out of the tech-company manifesto and hold ourselves to the standard of the end-user. If you design from the end-user out, you create an experience both worthwhile for the care professional, but more importantly for the patient. I dare medical device manufacturers to understand why it's difficult for a nurse to speak with a patient who is intubated. I dare administrators to ask patients why they leave unhappy despite having their outcomes met.

You, Dr., Mr. and Mrs. Device Manufacturer, do not have all the answers. Your users do. So stop starting with what you think are the problems. Talk to humans and figure out what they truly need. Because it is not about getting stitches. It is about getting better.

This post was produced by MassChallenge, the largest-ever startup accelerator and the first to support early-stage entrepreneurs with no strings attached. See which startups will win $1.5 million in grants: http://www.masschallenge.org/awards

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