Five years ago, when confronted with the chaos of a hospital floor, Bob Porter, then the president of the SSM DePaul Health Center in St. Louis, called in the designers. Porter forged an unconventional alliance with the California design firm Ideo to redesign wards from a patient’s perspective: creating central kiosks for family members to find hospital information easily, streamlining staff communication processes, even redecorating patient rooms to make them feel less clinical and more personal. “Bob’s great insight was to apply design thinking and methods to a hospital,” says Ideo’s Jane Fulton Suri. His efforts have not only earned raves from patients, they have helped boost SSM’s bottom line. Over the past five years, DePaul has become the city’s fastest-growing hospital. “We’re only beginning to fundamentally reexamine how to create a humancentric approach to delivering health care,” Porter says.
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