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Improve Healthcare Staff and patients experience

Client: Policlinico S.Orsola                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Employer: UniMoRe - department of Management and Engineering 

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Improve the ER staff working condition, which tends to be exposed to dramatic stress and workload level. Train the healthcare professionals to adopt a new approach to copy with a continuously evolving context characterized by scarce resources, equipment and staff, and an increasing in-flow of patients.

How might we improve ER staff working experience and create an internal team of practitioners capable of continually adapting solutions and responding creatively to the context changes? 

The Team

ER  innovation team: 4X ER physicians, 5X ER nurses, 3X ER aid nurses, ER chief.

UniMoRe Team: 1 x Senior Management Engineer (my supervisor), 3 x Junior Management Engineer, 1 x Service Designer (me).

My Role: Ux researcher and Service Designer.  I worked embedded in the ER department for 18 months. I was in charge of the on-field user research, facilitating the co-design meeting with the healthcare staff, and designing the user journeys and touchpoints of the new services.  


One co-design meeting with the hospital staff.



Creation of an ER innovation team:                                                             Physicians, nurses, and aid nurses were gathered for the first time around the same table to collaborate and develop solutions to improve their working conditions. The team members gathered in biweekly meetings to discuss the advancement of the work done by the UniMoRe team. All crucial design decisions were agreed together. Once every two months the ER innovation team and UniMoRe team presented the results of the projects to the hospital board.



Context research:                                                                                                    spent about 2 months observing the healthcare professionals working on their environment, interviewing them, and researching the emergency room and healthcare field. The final goal was to understand the ER process and the ER staff's needs. I designed the first ER service blueprint which was later on used to create the ER-process computational model.




Problem framing:                                                                                                 Due to the complexity of the emergency room environment, it has been challenging to identify the main problem to focus on. Furthermore, most of the issues mentioned during the interviews were perception-based and needed validation. We tested them with the healthcare staff in several ways: data collection, computational scenarios, experiments and live prototypes.


Ideation and definition:                                                                                        The healthcare staff's involvement in the ideation phase was necessary to design a solution adapted to each category's needs and accepted by the majority of the hospital personnel. The definition of the solution required to me the switch from having a role of designer enabler, to my intervention as a full service designer.

User journeys were used to investigate and represent the different phases of ER process.


Solution test and iteration: we used low-fidelity prototypes to test our solutions. The picture above displays a paper-made plug-in for the triage software interfaces.  


The final output consisted of four holistic solutions. Two of them were process changes, supported by a redesign of some digital tools. Two solutions required infrastructural changes in the hospital building and were both approved, financed, and implemented (one of them is the ER waiting room redesign). Lastly, we created an internal multidisciplinary innovation team of ER staff who accepted to support the adoption of these solution in the hospital.


The redesign of the waiting room aimed at enabling patients to be more independent in navigating the ER department (better wayfinding and explanation of ER operation). As a result, the triage staff experienced a decrease in patient complaints and questions.

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