A Sprint to Communicate

Two weeks ago, the Hub along with special guest Doug Solomon, embarked on a 24-hour Design Bolt to try to solve for a way to keep patients informed about who is being told what about their stay in the hospital.  The project came from the observation by Dr. Jen Abele from the Emergency Department that many patients clearly show a sense of relief when they are informed that their PCP is aware or even taking part in their treatment at Sibley.  And so, our Bolt began. 

Who did we interview?

First, the four of us paired up and sat down with some patients and physicians that were kind enough to spend some time chatting with us.  From patients, we looked to discover what information would help them and what the current process looked like and felt like to them.  What did the ideal system look like to them?  What would it feel like to them?  We went to the physicians and asked the same things along with some questions about how they would prefer to receive and send information.  How would you like to be alerted about your patient being in the hospital?  Would you like patients to know that you know?

What did we learn?

We reconvened in the Hub in the afternoon to synthesize the information that we had collected.  We realized that we had learned a few really cool things.  First—between HIPAA and different electronic medical record systems and different personal preferences—there are a lot of different ways and reasons to use or not use just about every form of communication.


We brainstormed through as many different forms of communication as I could imagine.  I learned about 4 new apps that I had never heard of before, and we looked high and low to see if any of these would fit in within the parameters of possibility.  We explored the idea of disappearing voice messages physicians could leave for their patients to using a website that could send messages to giving a few auto-response answers for physicians to give quickly after hearing about their patient to giving a copy of the faxes sent to physicians to patients as well.  This was truly one of the toughest tests of finding the appropriate combination of viability, feasibility, and desirability that I have been a part of. 

What did we decide upon? 

We recognize that making changes to EPIC is easier said than done, but this could still be a great way to continue making Patient and Family Centered Care our priority.  The flier attached summarizes a prototype that we came up with.  In attempt to balance personal and informational we thought of a way that an automatic note can be generated, and this can be given to the patient.  EPIC would generate the note and be able to add some information so that the patient knows that it is personal to them. 

It was surely an interesting Bolt, and it learning about different possible forms of communication as well as the many different preferences for and limitations of these forms opened up my eyes to how complicated communication within a field can be.  I love the dive in aspects of the Design Bolts, I really feel that the rapid immersion into something specific and different gives me the ability to feel some of the unique aspects of that area.  Without fail, I find myself having multiple “wow” reactions throughout the empathy and fact finding process.