Patient-oriented health care is the future, researcher says

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

The future of the health care system lies in a patient-oriented approach, not in the continuation of its current structure, according to health care innovator Stacey Chang.

Chang, former managing director of global design firm IDEO’s health care division, spoke Wednesday about the benefits of a design approach in the context of the health care system. The lecture was a part of a series called “Discoveries in Art and Health,” a collaborative effort between the College of Fine Arts and Dell Medical School.

“The lecture series is meant to explore the intersections between art and health care and to showcase what artists, performers and designers can contribute to the health care system,” said Douglas Dempster, dean of the College of Fine Arts.

The design approach is the creation of a health care system with the patient as its core focus, according to Chang.

“I think, first and foremost, it’s about starting with human motivations,” Chang said. “We always go straight to the [consumer] because that’s where we find the most opportunity for innovation.”

This approach has allowed Chang to dig deeper into the motivations of health care professionals beyond what one sees in the doctor’s office.

“Physicians enter the field wanting to care for people, and they evolve as they go through medical education and training,” Chang said. “Often they become efficient but callous. They are given less and less opportunity to do what they came to do — to care for people.”

According to Chang, the health care system has many stakeholders concerned with their own tasks. 

The lack of connection among those involved in health care provisions can result in an impersonal experience for patients, according to Maninder Kahlon, vice dean for strategy and partnerships of the Dell Medical School.

“Our system is broken,” Kahlon said. “There’s a lack of coordination. The challenge is to bring rationality back so that everyone involved in care is focused on the patient.”

Chang’s efforts in bridging health care and design include partnering with a realty company to create housing for wounded veterans that accommodates their health-care needs in a traditional home aesthetic. She has also done work labeling electrode pads for defibrillators to decrease time needed for resuscitation.

 “There’s really only one experience in life that we all share as a society, and that’s health care,” Chang said. “Its future is uncertain, but we can design it together.”