By 2007, UPMC had grown to be a conglomerate of 20 hospitals and 400 outpatient sites in Western Pennsylvania. At South Hills, we observed a certain level of disunity across the offerings and designed new possibilities to strengthen organizational ties and patient experiences.
Our design team was initially brought in to examine and improve patient experience in the South Hills surgery and outpatient facility in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania. After observations, ethnographic research, interviews, and other methods, it was evident that the patient experience was actually one of the facility’s strong suits. Our team worked with management to change our course to another problem that emerged: a need for stronger overall vision, planning, and unity at South Hills and UPMC Corporate. We delivered a vertical map for how South Hills could become a model for other outpatient facilities.
While the directive was to improve patient experience, research indicated high levels of satisfaction across many departments. What was revealed, however, was a lack of cohesion in the facility.
The physical plant itself felt like a “dead mall.” We saw opportunities to reach ahead — beyond patient experience — and explore the future of community healthcare hubs.
↑ Our traditional toolbox of research methods proved useless when subjects were asked to envision the “future of health care.” What our team developed was a remapping tool — Juicetaggr — abstracting the question enough to become accessible.
“If the future of healthcare were one of these juicers, which one would it be, and why?” they were asked. The method was repeated with vacation spots, cars, magazines, and more. While the choice mattered little, the justification informed us of values. This provided us with a word cloud of responses, not to direct us to concrete solutions, but rather to the design of a broader vision for UPMC.
Rooted in research, interviews, organizational planning, and design ideation, our report provided a vertical map for the future of UPMC South Hills. It was the desire of the corporate steering committee for South Hills to become a model for the future healthcare. The vertical map provided a tightly integrated plan for ground-level service design changes to high-level visioning and planning. Proposals offered a range of solutions that were short- and long-term, cost-effective and expensive.