September 12, 2016
Design thinking, defined as: “a human-centered approach to innovation that integrates the needs of the people, the possibility of technology, and the requirements for success,” has been recently recognized as a powerful tool to address major shortcomings in healthcare. Through the implementation of design thinking, care delivery, medical provider training, and overall healthcare experience can all be improved. Recently, the New England Journal of Medicine recently identified Sidney Kimmel Medical College (SKMC) as a leading innovator in implementing design thinking within medical education.
SKMC is going beyond supplying medical students with an arsenal of memorized facts and is training students to use design thinking to improve healthcare. JeffDESIGN is the first design program that has been implemented in a medical school. In this program, students work with a variety of mentors to solve real problems in healthcare. Success of implementing design thinking in medical education is evident in the outcomes observed at SKMC: an improved patient room, a smartphone app for patients, and a restructured medical curriculum (which was awarded 2nd place at the AMA Medical Education Innovation Conference). Currently, two student groups are filing for medical device patents. Further, design thinking was the basis behind the creation of our very own PEL— which is designed to fill gaps in medical education, better preparing SKMC physicians to become healthcare leaders.
Design thinking, although not novel to the art of medicine, is being re-discovered at SKMC as a feasible way to solve significant problems in healthcare and to develop physician leaders prepared to apply this approach in medicine.