Health IT and Design Thinking

There is no better time for the health IT community to come together under one umbrella to raise national awareness of the benefits information technology can bring to the US health system. National Health IT (NHIT) Week is a nationwide awareness week focused on the value of health IT. Each year, NHIT Week Partners educate industry and policy stakeholders on the value of health IT for the US healthcare system. Every Tuesday leading up to NHIT Week, our valued partners will share their voice and experience on how they demonstrate the value of health IT.

Storytelling has become a business competency that drives emotional engagement and results in enhanced professional performance. At the beginning of my academic career, I thought that preparing well for my courses, being knowledgeable and well organized would suffice to become a successful professor. I learned that this was not always the case.

I discovered rapidly that without making a personal connection with my students, without understanding their attitudes, emotions, beliefs, and mindsets, the knowledge that I want to transfer, the skills that I want them to learn, are going to get lost along the way. This is why in the Health Informatics and Information Management Program at the University of Southern Indiana, ‘Design Thinking’ methodology is becoming extremely important in the way the material should be delivered to our students.

Each course is being built by using empathy maps, so that students are at the center of trying to understand what they hear, how they feel, what they do, see and think. It makes perfect sense to start with empathy, because our goal as educators should be to create courses that deliver the knowledge and practical experience that students could use when they graduate.

Now, try to imagine applying the same strategy to the way we develop new approaches to complex healthcare problems through human-centered research, information technologies, or by how we engage with industry and policy stakeholders to demonstrate the value of health IT for our healthcare system.

If our mission is to

  • improve the quality of healthcare delivery
  • increase patient safety
  • decrease medical errors, and
  • strengthen the interaction between patients and healthcare providers,

we have to develop the best possible products and offer the best possible services that meet our patients’ needs. Through awareness, empathy, and storytelling, healthcare providers and educators can make a long-lasting personal connection with the people we serve.

This is why the College of Nursing and Health Professions from the University of Southern Indiana decided to be part of the National Health IT Week. We wanted to join the many others who raise awareness and help the collective cause by recognizing the value of health IT, while understanding that technology is just a tool and not the solution for every problem-facing healthcare today.

The key to success is working together with the common goal of building a safer and better patient-centered and community/population-oriented U.S. healthcare system.