Having cancer is a crap journey. My spouse is a survivor. We know. And just last week, I learned that biopsy results confirm that my 22-year-old niece has breast cancer. Not happy news.

So it comes as no surprise that my attention was drawn to Fast Company’s recent article on Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Josie Robertson Surgery Center.

It’s a terrific read on people-centered business design at work – at the scale of a full ecosystem.

Business challenge:

  • Due to increasing numbers of surgical cases (largely associated with the baby boom), MSK needed to augment surgical space of their main campus.
  • Due to health care insurance pressures on increased efficiencies, they embarked on a journey to move previously in-patient cancer surgeries and procedures to out-patient models.
  • Due to the highly charged emotional atmosphere around cancer patients and their families, MSK needed to leverage an environment that calms patients so their energies are focused mostly on healing and recovery (with by-products of reduced costs & improved patient satisfaction).

The approach the JRSC took (with support of ICRAVE design team and Perkins Eastman architects) is one that combines key approaches from Service Design & Customer Experience Design.

  1. Identify the business challenge (above).
  2. LEARN from the people affected (to flesh out the biz challenge and lay groundwork for solutions).
  3. Prioritize emotional responses.
  4. Focus on transitions and hand-offs.
  5. Leverage the best of human empathy and technology solutions affordable.

The results were key wins in communications, space design, and operational efficiencies affecting patients, families, and staff:

  1. “A mobile app might send the patient notifications before surgery, reminding them to complete a checklist of preparation steps. Right after surgery, bedside tablets will allow patients to Skype with their doctor, and when they go home, they’ll be able to securely text questions and send photos, as well as score their pain and remaining symptoms daily.”
  2. “… the waiting room feels more like a fancy co-working space for families to camp out, play games, get work done, and grab a bite to eat. The patient rooms—all private, with private bathrooms—have floor-to-ceiling windows; the floors have unique art and poetry, central gathering places for a buffet breakfast and socializing; the figure-eight hallways double as walking paths for post-surgery exercise.”
  3. “Everyone in the hospital—doctors, staff, and most importantly, patients, and their family—will wear a real-time location badges, … Orderlies will be notified, for instance, when they can clean a patient’s room, and a board will light up to notify nurses when all systems are go for a patient’s surgery.”

Read the article.

Most of us aren’t curing cancer in our daily lives.

At the JRSC they are – and they’re setting a very high bar for best practices in customer care and emotional design.

We can learn much.