Thought Leadership

Providing Innovation Through Design Thinking


December 6, 2019

Kelly Grigg, Design Thinking Process Engineer

We sat down with Kelly Grigg, Design Thinking Process Engineer to talk innovation and explain how Design Thinking (DT) is applied on Cognosante programs and her current work on the COMS project in support of the VA.

1. Design Thinking, also known as human-centered design, is a hot topic these days, can you distill down what it means for Cognosante?

Embracing Design Thinking means that Cognosante has committed to a culture that encourages an open, end-user focused strategy where program teams feel safe to truly get to the heart of customer challenges. This allows us to create radical, innovative solutions that aren’t just technologically sound, but also user-friendly and effective!

2. How are we currently leveraging Design Thinking in support of projects?

When utilizing DT on a project, instead of relying on our own assumptions of the existing challenges, we research and engage those who actually “live” within the problem space to ensure that we accurately understand the pain points before providing a full-scale solution. This ensures that our customers receive solutions that meet their needs, both from a technological and user experience standpoint.

3. Which project is your favorite, and why?

That’s a tough question! All of our projects aim to make some part of the healthcare experience better for those using our solutions, so it’s difficult to say which one I favor. That said, I personally enjoy our work with the VA because it enhances the care that Veterans receive (and deserve).

4. Have there been any significant project findings as a result of Design Thinking?

We’ve come across many significant findings through our research. What’s important about these insights is that they not only help us understand where to focus our solution, but it highlights the issues for all stakeholders so that they see and understand the logic behind our solutions. Here are just a few examples that come to mind:

  • INSIGHT: Health only becomes a priority when you can see a high ROI, or you no longer really have a “choice”
    • What it means: Only when the inconvenience of someone’s day-to-day pain outweighs the inconvenience of seeking treatment do they take action to correct their health because their freedom and control have been compromised.
    • How did we use this information: In order to change people’s habits, you have to understand what is motivating those habits. In this case, we learned from the people we spoke with that the process of seeing a doctor was so inconvenient and frustrating, that they only go when absolutely necessary. This allows us to focus on enhancing the experience at the doctor’s office to try and get people to their doctor sooner rather than later.
  • INSIGHT: Patients are asked to consent to give information they don’t own, see, or understand for reasons they never know
    • What it means: Technically, patients ‘own’ their medical record and must give their consent for it to be shared- yet they little knowledge of the details they are sharing. What is also frustrating is that this same consent creates barriers to care such as delays in diagnosis, starting treatment and time-consuming research on a patient’s history when doctors can’t get access to a patient’s medical record.
    • How we use this information: Learning this meant that the product we designed should allow patients to understand their medical data, perpetually control levels of access and provide visibility of who has access and why.
  • INSIGHT: The medical record is like a junk drawer
    • What it means: In our research, providers routinely cited the need to dedicate time for maintenance and error correction of patients’ data. Searching for specific information was impeded with irrelevant categories or provided too much information that reduced the efficiency of the providers tasks. The absence of full accountability or ownership on anyone’s part contributes to the overwhelming distrust in patients’ data.
    • How we used this information: Once we recognized the problem, we knew the product should provide a sense of order for the medical record based on what is most relevant to the patient’s ontology, reduce manual updates, increase trust through data certification and increase provider to provider collaboration.

5. Are there Design Thinking resources you could share with employees interested in learning more on the topic?

One of my favorites is IDEO, which offers free Design Thinking materials! Medium and Harvard Business Review also frequently post great Design Thinking articles, such as The Design Thinking Playbook and Why Design Thinking Works.