Design  Thinking Vs. Ground Hog Day

Design Thinking Vs. Ground Hog Day

Learn how Design Thinking can create a better relationship between physicians and their patients.

It’s a critical skill that you can utilize quickly and effectively to gain the margin you absolutely need in a post-COVID world. As part of mental health month this past May I watched a documentary and listened to the stories of many medical students, residents, fellows and attending physicians featured in that documentary. Such storytelling films provide an enormous tool to share and influence others. Especially when produced by a skilled Emmy nominated filmmaker like Robyn Symon. Patients and physicians alike need these tools to share and create emotional engagement for others. The good news is that you don’t have to be a filmmaker to use this tool.


Design thinking will give you new opportunities to reinvent and reimagine your work and your life. At its core, design thinking simply takes a step back, observes the bigger picture, and asks “is this the best way to do this?” Just like the reframing tool from last month, you can discover new tools to allow physicians and patients to build healthy lifestyles. These tools allow physicians to be the trusted advisor instead of a cog within assembly line medicine. Here’s where design comes in -Last month we talked about the interactions of medicine and patients. As a designer I have to wonder how well the physician’s limited time is being invested in patients.


Remember the film Groundhog Day? I fear many physicians’ lives look increasingly like Groundhog Day -spending so much time repeating similar information to different faces. If this hasn’t happened to you, it might explain why your colleagues are so grumpy sometimes -just like Bill Murray’s character. When I ask physicians about this, I find many can give me at least a Top 3 very  quickly. Most physicians would have a Top 3 list within seconds.


Your Top Three...

Repetitive conversations

Annoying conversations

Draining conversations

Pandora’s Box conversations, Policies We Didn’t Create (But Have To Legally Follow Anyway) conversations.


Do those conversations ever take their toll on you? Your time? Your energy? Your spirit? If you’re a few years or more into your career and feel less than ecstatic to be a physician, could this be a small part of the reason why?


We both know that you can’t control everything - but I’d suggest that you might just be able to change this one part of your day. If you choose to see your role differently, you might be able to reframe your role and your persona in your practice. How do you do this? You simply answer those questions - for the last time. If there were a way to answer every question, while staying positive, and staying out of many if not all negative interactions, would you be willing to think openly and objectively about it? Because this solution is out of the box. It’s NOT for everyone. But it might just be for you. Of course patients expect physicians to do the same thing over and over.  But what if this could change?  What if more physicians stepped outside of tradition, and took a design view instead? Remember the 90s? The very early days of the internet? Those early websites quickly learned to adapt to all the repetitive questions they were being asked. This resulted in the FAQ. You’re a highly trained professional, and I understand why so many of your colleagues simply repeat the same answers with different patients. However the FAQ quickly became a standard way for organizations to save a lot of time on their websites. And now in the age of tele-Health, where patients are starting to get used to virtual connections, the time has never been easier for forward thinking physicians to empower their patients. There are enormous ramifications beyond just saving some time. Here are just a few you could consider:


1. Save Time & Energy

especially on draining conversations


2. Train Your Patient

patients want to partner with you on their health and many are eager for a more active role in their health - if you empower them. Tip - Adult learners need to know the why and not just the what.


3. Build Authority

many patients are asking Doctor Google simply because they don’t have access to their primary physician’s insights. Building a library of short spoken or written content that patients can access on-demand suddenly puts you on the same league as any celebrity doctor - with the added benefit that patients know they can see you regularly -unlike the talking head on TV.



So many physicians have already made this shift to on-demand content.  And I’m not even suggesting you become a blogger or podcaster. Simply doing your Top 3 frequently asked questions will help you enjoy these benefits. Will you take the leap?  What three conversations would you most like to eliminate if you could? 

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