Fellow Quaker Kit Shea and I recently attended the Mayo Clinic’s Transform 2011 conference in Rochester, MN. Billed as a multidisciplinary event that focused on the transformation of the delivery and very experience of healthcare in the in United States through innovation and design, the sessions we attended and stories we heard proved to be nothing less than exceptional. Many of the speakers left lasting impressions, but one in particular makes for an interesting case study in evolution through the utilization of readily accessible technology.
In 2007, Dr. Jay Parkinson started a healthcare practice in Williamsburg, BK with $1500, a very basic website, Google Calendar, his iPhone and Instant Messaging/Video Chat applications.
His practice operated like so:
“1. Patients would visit my website
2. See my Google calendar
3. Choose a time and input their symptoms
4. My iphone would alert me
5. I would make a house call
6. They’d pay me via paypal
7. We’d follow up by email, IM, videochat, or in person”
Dr. Parkinson’s utilization of technology simplified the doctor/patient experience, making communication easier. Essentially, the level of communication that evolved in this case study was a step back in medical history to the concept of the house-call doctor. Dr. Parkinson’s site eventually evolved into an online resource called Hello Health that allows other doctors and patients to follow the example he set in online healthcare delivery.
Dr. Parkinson’s example is a fantastic case study of how technology and social-media-esque applications, when used thoughtfully, can strengthen the connection with users. There is an important lesson here for all designers and innovators: namely, to not lose sight of the idea that technology is meant to simplify users’ experiences and strengthen our connectedness to each other, to brands, to information, etc. More often than not, the success of the most innovative, technology-driven design work hinges on this criteria.