Did you know? According to a study covered by HBR, over 3.6 million people missed their hospital appointments, and healthcare providers lost billions of dollars annually because of missed appointments. When the researchers tried to get to the root of the problem, they realized that most people missed their appointments because of transportation issues. Patients faced difficulty in arranging their transport to the hospital.

Another study in South Africa showed that the healthcare providers were able to reduce appointments for diabetic patients from 70% to 30% by offering web services, diabetes education, and sending appointment reminders on patient’s cell phones.

Healthcare technology is rapidly making improvements. Today, doctors can detect diseases and control them at an early stage. Patients can monitor their progress through wearable devices etc. We have new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, AI, and cloud technology aiding healthcare services.

However, when it comes to patient care, hospitals and medical teams are still struggling to make it easier for the patients.

So, how can healthcare providers use technology to improve patient care?

The answer lies in design thinking.

What is design thinking?

IDEOU – a design consultancy firm defines design thinking as a process of solving human problems creatively. It encourages businesses to create products that are user-centric, and which are technologically and economically viable.

So, if we look at it from the healthcare technology perspective, design thinking will make healthcare technology user-friendly for both the healthcare providers and the patients. It can improve patient care efficiency and lead to innovations.

How can developers use design thinking in healthcare technology?

Design thinking follows a five-step process – Empathy, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test.

Let’s look at how developers can create user-centric solutions for healthcare companies using the five stages of design thinking.

#1 – Empathy

Empathy is the foundation of design thinking. Empathizing with the customer’s problems enables you to think about a solution from a fresh perspective. Let’s go back to the increasing incidents of missing appointments. As the study showed, the patients missed their appointments. Here’s a chance for you to think of ways to remove this roadblock for the patient. Spend time to research your customer pain points and gather data to understand the challenges in-depth. You can collect this data by interviewing the patients or asking them to fill a survey form or through a phone call. Keep your eyes and ears open to get as many insights as possible.

#2 – Define

Once you analyze the gathered data, you will get a better sense of the issues faced by your customers and the users of your product. You can now define customer problems efficiently. For example, after speaking to the patients, you know that they are missing appointments due to the difficulty in arranging for transportation. This newfound clarity will help you to find an appropriate solution for the problem.

#3 – Ideate

In this stage, you have to go to the drawing board and start finding solutions to address the issue. Gather your testing, development, and customer experience teams and brainstorm alternatives to solve the challenge. For example, a probable solution to curb missing appointments could be to create an app to help patients book an ambulance easily in one tap or swipe of the finger.

Bonus Tip: The number of ideas you get during the brainstorming sessions can overwhelm you. We advise you to take time to identify which features will truly benefit the customer and develop only those that will help the customer. Keep your customer’s problem at the center of your decision-making process, not your teams’.

#4 – Prototype

Once you know what features will benefit your customers, it is time to build a prototype of the solution. It could be an app or an extra feature added to the existing app. Layout the design of your solution and get started with the development. For example, your team may have unanimously agreed to build a new feature in the healthcare mobile app to book transportation while booking the doctor’s appointment. So, plan how to integrate the new feature in the existing app and start building on it.

#5 – Test

As with all software development process, you need to test the prototype to ensure that it works without any glitches. For example, ask your testing team and a section of patients to evaluate if the new feature allows them to book transportation quickly. Is the option visible to the patient? Do they get a confirmation from the service provider once they book an ambulance? Are they able to contact the service provider when the ambulance does not arrive on time? Are there any functionality or cosmetic bugs that pose a hurdle for the user? Checking for these use cases will help you to improve the UI and UX of the new feature or app. Ask for feedback from your team and patients so you can improve the quality of the product.


The above example is just one instance where you can use design thinking to improve the patient’s experience. You can do many things to ensure that the patients receive good healthcare benefits. Healthcare technology solution providers must adopt a design thinking culture. This can allow them to be attuned to observe the challenges faced by the patients and hospitals and develop solutions to overcome those. By embedding design thinking at every stage of software development, software developers can offer great value to their product users and customers.