A case study from the healthcare industry at Mayo Clinic

Design thinking is a vital tool in fostering innovation and delivering services which make the consumer feel good about his or her experience. The Mayo Clinic has an entire lab devoted to utilizing design thinking for improving people's interactions with the healthcare system.

The Mayo Clinic's Design Research Studio observes patients, interviews families, and conducts traditional consumer research. It also visualizes, models, prototypes and tests possible health care delivery solutions,  in order to create innovations that will transform health care delivery. Using the approach of design thinking, researchers decide early on in the process whether a prototyped solution should be developed into a product or abandoned. This leads to more efficient use of funds and the transferring of knowledge from one project to the next.

Photo of a Jack and Jill exam room Design Thinking in action - Mayo Clinic

One of the most impactful innovations was in the redesign of the clinic's exam rooms. The rooms had not be redesigned in 100 years, despite drastic changes in physician-patient interaction, tools, technology and processes. The Design Research Studio experimented with different models in actual physician-patient meetings. The researchers discovered that despite the fact that much medical care consists of discussions between patient and doctor, the exam rooms were not pleasant spaces for conversations due to the abundance of medical equipment. And doctors wished for more flexibility in moving medical equipment around the room, but were limited in space because of the abundance of furniture.

This problem led to innovative clinic rooms called Jack and Jill rooms. A room for conversations between doctors and patients is comfortable and tranquil, extending discussions and allowing for more effective consultations which can include family members as well. The adjoining exam rooms (reached through a connecting door) are more conducive to examinations, since there is more empty space and devices can be moved around.

Design Thinking Process as put by the Mayo Clinic

The Mayo Clinic has found a way to put the patient at the center of medical care. The concept of a human-focused design process makes for a more positive experience for the patient, which in turn leads him to visit his doctor more often, listen better to instructions and discuss concerns more freely.


Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.