Garron served on the core team launching Thinkwell Health, Thinkwell Group’s expansion into healthcare design.
Thinkwell Group has over 20 years of experience designing compelling guest-centered experiences ranging from theme parks, live shows, museums, cultural attractions, and corporate briefing centers. Continually looking for new opportunities to improve guest journeys, the team saw healthcare as an opportunity to apply these experience design principles to the patient journey. Employing best practices in design and operational planning for high-throughput, high-impact places like museums and theme parks, Thinkwell Health helps the entire continuum of patients, community, staff, and clinicians engage more meaningfully across the healthcare system.
After the opportunity was identified and the core Thinkwell Health team was formed, Garron helped oversee the development of Thinkwell Health’s messaging and capabilities. The main challenge was how to strategically enter the healthcare space and—through compelling messaging and outreach—establish the company as thought leaders in healthcare experience design.
The process began with an effort to observe existing healthcare practices and to become familiar with the current compartmentalized state of health organizations. The team performed comprehensive experience audits from both the perspective of the patient and the healthcare worker as well as interviewing stakeholders and frontline workers.
Garron helped seek out these experience audits and helped the teams distill the information obtained through these activities. It became clear that patients were frustrated with extended wait times and confusing hospital layouts as well as being inundated with multiple streams of critical information.
It is far easier for a decades-old established structure to dismiss new ideas, and healthcare is understandably risk-averse. Understanding the motivations, fears, concerns, and hopes of people as they move through a system has not been a focus for healthcare, and the designs of current spaces and processes reflect this. It became clear that thinking of healthcare systems as places that people experience, with predictable paths and points of conflict or failure, lessons from other industries can be applied to have a more person-focused design. These eye-opening activities helped the team understand the end user and identify the need.
Putting the end user at the center of the healthcare experience and collaborating closely with medical professionals, Garron and the team began ideating a number of solutions ranging from redesigning the healthcare organization’s mission, vision, and values down to transforming the infamous waiting room experience.
Theme parks are designed to entertain guests as they wait for hours in lines and have specific processes in place for when things go wrong—when a ride breaks down or an outdoor show has to be cancelled due to the weather. The team strived to bring this design thinking to healthcare: planning for the best and worst case scenarios including designing private spaces to give families a place to rest, regroup, and receive updates about their loved ones. Conducting many collaborative creative sessions, the team looked at improving the processes as well as streamlining and simplifying the information streams that and touchpoints in the patient experience.
Building a Design Framework
After the phases of observation and ideation, the Thinkwell Health team was then able to build out design principles and frameworks to guide and inform the healthcare experience design. Working in close collaboration with the executive team and Chief Medical Officer, Garron and the team assembled a framework of the four major elements within experience design as it relates to healthcare:
PEOPLE - Patients, families + caregivers, staff, and clinicians – we consider the commonalities and unique needs between each user group to promote a positive experience.
PLACES - We pay attention to every step along the healthcare pathway at every scale of facility: arriving and parking, reception to waiting rooms, patient rooms to wayfinding.
PLATFORM - There’s more to healthcare than physical facilities. We look at every means of engagement, from electronic records and patient portals, to websites, apps, and more.
PROCESS - Our expertise in developing operational plans, processes, and training allows systems to survive and succeed despite things inevitably deviating from optimal.
Industry Thought Leaders
With these frameworks and principles in place, the Thinkwell Health team began crafting their own messaging and built case studies connecting entertainment design principles and their observations with current healthcare design. As the business development and marketing lead, Garron also managed Thinkwell Health’s digital presence: launching a new website, developing a brand strategy, and building all of the business development decks and materials. Garron led the effort to secure speaking opportunities at multiple industry conferences and assisted with the development of the spoken presentations.
Conference Presentations & Articles
• HXD: Health Experience Design Conference 2019 - “Why People Will Pay Hundreds of Dollars to Wait Two Hours in Orlando for a 90 Second Ride, But Are Frustrated by Healthcare” Watch a Recording of the Presentation Here
• MGMA 2019 Conference - “Beyond Hospitality: Lessons in Experience Design from Themed Entertainment” Listen to a Podcast Interview Here
• NGPX 2019 Conference - “The Parallels Between Theme Park Design and Achieving The Quality, Performance and Human Experience Objectives for 21st Century Healthcare”
• HIMSS 2020 Conference - “What Can Healthcare Learn from Theme Parks and Museums?” Read an Article Here
• The Health Care Blog - "Everyone Is Having the Wrong Healthcare Debate" Read the Article Here
Thinkwell Health has brought measurable improvement in the clinical and operational performance of healthcare organizations as well as positive and productive change in the attitudes and behavior of patients, healthcare professionals and staff.
The Equation of Experience
One Sheet PDF