directCare: enhancing hospital services

Introduction

Information overload is always a problem for patients at hospitals, especially as medical diagnoses, treatments, and follow up care become more complicated. Having to deal with information is hard enough when you’re the patient, but perhaps a tougher situation is when the patient is a young child and you’re their parent or caregiver.

My masters thesis project aimed to study both the emotional journey of parents with children at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (CHP) as well as the current methods for information delivery, and to develop an enhanced system or service that will hopefully improve the current methods of family education.

Process

Research: understanding the family journey

A parent's entire journey at CHP; I decided to focus only on their journey at 7IMC.

A model representing different people that parents interact with during their stay at CHP.

Information flow for a typical parent journey (from ER back home).

Current emotional journey of parents. More info available in my project documentation!

Ideal emotional journey for parents. More info available in my project documentation!

Parent values. The three most important for a parent feeling in control: information, support, and care.

Concepting: brainstorming activities to do with families

Concept testing: having families design their own information screen

Initial concept ideas

Initial service sketch

directCare service touchpoints

directCare|welcome mockup

directCare|welcome scenario

directCare|mobile scenario

directCare|mobile initial wireframes

directCare|mobile detailed wireframe

directCare|inroom initial wireframes

directCare|inroom detailed wireframe

Research: understanding the family journey
A parent's entire journey at CHP; I decided to focus only on their journey at 7IMC.
A model representing different people that parents interact with during their stay at CHP.
Information flow for a typical parent journey (from ER back home).
Current emotional journey of parents. More info available in my project documentation!
Ideal emotional journey for parents. More info available in my project documentation!
Parent values. The three most important for a parent feeling in control:  information, support, and care.
Concepting: brainstorming activities to do with families
Concept testing: having families design their own information screen
Initial concept ideas
Initial service sketch
directCare service touchpoints
directCare|welcome mockup
directCare|welcome scenario
directCare|mobile scenario
directCare|mobile initial wireframes
directCare|mobile detailed wireframe
directCare|inroom initial wireframes
directCare|inroom detailed wireframe
Research: understanding the family journey thumbnail
A parent's entire journey at CHP; I decided to focus only on their journey at 7IMC. thumbnail
A model representing different people that parents interact with during their stay at CHP. thumbnail
Information flow for a typical parent journey (from ER back home).  thumbnail
Current emotional journey of parents. More info available in my project documentation! thumbnail
Ideal emotional journey for parents. More info available in my project documentation! thumbnail
Parent values. The three most important for a parent feeling in control:  information, support, and care. thumbnail
Concepting: brainstorming activities to do with families thumbnail
Concept testing: having families design their own information screen thumbnail
Initial concept ideas thumbnail
Initial service sketch thumbnail
directCare service touchpoints thumbnail
directCare|welcome mockup thumbnail
directCare|welcome scenario thumbnail
directCare|mobile scenario thumbnail
directCare|mobile initial wireframes thumbnail
directCare|mobile detailed wireframe thumbnail
directCare|inroom initial wireframes thumbnail
directCare|inroom detailed wireframe thumbnail

I started my exploratory research by talking to CHP staff. I focused on parents staying at the new 7IMC unit, an intermediary care unit housing children that were not critical enough to stay in ICU but still needed constant monitoring. I also talked to various parents who had children staying at 7IMC. Speaking to staff and families allowed me to learn a great deal about the experience.

Common problems
–information is not given to you unless it is critical, or unless you ask
–first visits to the hospital are overwhelming both emotionally, and with the overload of information
–parents need to seek out a lot of information on their own
–parents never remember to ask the questions they want or need when the doctor is there
–parents can’t always remember verbal information
–there are too many staff to interact with; “you don’t remember who you’ve asked what to”

Common positive aspects
–keeping journals was very helpful for parents who did this
–learning and knowing medical terms helps
–most of the nursing staff were friendly and helpful
–guidance and friendliness from social workers

What parents thought would help
–more connection with staff
–knowing about other parents’ experiences
–a more consistent experience
–being made aware of all resources and information

Following the research, I synthesized the findings and distilled them into three concept models (see slideshow above): one showing the current overall journey, one showing the ideal journey, and one showing the overall values that are important to parents during their stay at CHP. These models helped me think about the experience as a whole, and provided me with guidance towards generating concepts.

I generated concept after concept, and brought these back to some of the families at CHP. I created some participatory design activities for families so they could feel included in the design of a solution.

Solution

My final solution, which I called directCare, is a service that comprises of six different components:

directCare|welcome
A welcome kit given to parents upon arrival, containing important information (e.g., contact numbers, location of hospital facilities). For parents whose children require an overnight stay, the kit also includes age-appropriate items for the child (e.g., a teddy bear, or blanket). It also includes a disposable camera; I heard over and over again from parents that despite the situation, there are positive aspects of hospital stays and most have regretted not taking the time to document these.

directCare|mobile
A hospital-lent touchscreen mobile device to help keep parents connected to their child and child’s care even when they need to be away from the hospital

directCare|inroom
A touchscreen in-room display in every child’s room for parents to access information (child updates, current course of action, etc).

directCare|parentBoard
A removable whiteboard in every child’s room for parents to be more empowered about their child’s care. The board is used as a communal communication space; with all the hospital staff shift changes that happen, it helps for parents to have a central and visible place for important information.
directCare|farewell: a gift given to parents upon a child’s discharge. Contains photos taken during the stay, as well as some wallet cards (follow-up appointments, etc).

directCare|atHome
A website parents can visit containing all information that was recorded during the child’s stay. Serves as information for follow-up care and for future reference.