Integrating Designers into Mayo

Leaders of SPARC and the CFI faced a number of challenges in bringing designers into the medical clinic environment.

In general, they found that providers were open to allowing designers to do observations of the health care delivery processes. It was relatively easy for CFI staff to gain access to various areas of the clinic and to conduct their field research.

What was more difficult was to present their findings and propose new experiments in care delivery. Physicians were busy, and they were data-oriented; as a result, they could be skeptical about trying an unconventional way of using a pager or a different office setup or a new patient education brochure without proof that it would improve their daily lives.

CFI staff found that it was essential to show physicians data demonstrating the problems that they had observed and to show that proposed changes would make a difference to their patients. They also found that temporary changes, called "rapid prototyping" in the design world, were easier to sell than any kind of proposal for a permanent change. Designers became used to testing numerous short-term innovations and negotiating with all of the stakeholders in a medical practice in the course of an engagement.



Watch physicians and designers discuss resistance to change (YouTube version for slow connection).

Maggie Breslin standing at podium

Watch designers discuss strategies for communicating with physicians (YouTube version for slow connection).