Imagine being on a prenatal visit. Then, imagine having to wait longer than you expected. You are finally seen by a hurried nurse who doesn’t have time to completely answer questions about your pregnancy. They communicate with you using an abrupt tone and abstract terms that are challenging to fully comprehend. You leave the same appointment with a sinking feeling: you didn’t get a chance to explain your health concerns in detail. You may be disheartened: Why didn’t I make sure the nurse addressed all of my concerns? You may be confounded: Why were there blood tests ordered? Were they just following a procedure based off an incomplete snapshot of your symptoms?  

In fact, studies have shown that 80 percent of all diagnoses can be made based on just the narrative of your symptoms. When medical professionals have limited time to listen, we at Women’s eHealth believe that one of your best self-advocates for your health is yourself. But it is sometimes challenging to voice your concerns, especially as a woman, according to the World Health Organization. Some of the sociocultural factors that prevent women and girls to attain the best possible level of health service include

  • Unequal power relationships between men and women.
  • Social norms that decrease education and paid employment opportunities.
  • An exclusive focus on women’s reproductive roles.
  • Potential or actual experience of physical, sexual and emotional violence.

These are deep-rooted issues that challenge women from having the right to benefit from quality health care.

Do all needs warrant individualized care?

We at Women’s eHealth believe that quality and affordable healthcare should be available to all individuals—no matter where you call home, who you are, or what your needs may be. We also support the fact that excellent health care experiences are powered by a multidisciplinary approach that turns innovative ideas into practical solutions. Institutions such as the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation in conjunction with their Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology have explored ways to supplement Mayo’s prenatal care offerings to improve patient satisfaction by decreasing in-office visits and addressing care standards by applying the philosophy of human-centered design.

Human-centered design starts with people, ends with innovative solutions

Building on the groundbreaking methodologies that have guided myriad health care organizations in the culture change process such as Quint Studer’s Nine Principles of Service and Organizational Excellence that helps organizations align their goals, actions and processes, and execute quickly; and The Quadruple Aim that optimizes health system performance—enter “human-centered design,” a concept coined by design consultancy firm IDEO.

Human-centered design is a creative approach to problem solving that starts with people and ends with innovative solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs. “When you understand the people you’re trying to reach—and then design from their perspective—not only will you arrive at unexpected answers, but you’ll come up with ideas that they’ll embrace.” This central concept gleaned from IDEO’s introductory video is the pivotal force that the spark of human-centered design originates.

Human-centered design consists of three phases:

  • Inspiration Phase: learn directly from the people you’re designing for as you immerse yourself in their lives and come to deeply understand their needs
  • Ideation Phase: make sense of what you learned, identify opportunities for design, and prototype possible solutions
  • Implementation Phase: bring your solution to life, and eventually, to market

Let’s take a look at a Women’s eHealth study that illustrates this process so you can apply it to your own workplace.

Human-centered design empowers both patient and healthcare provider

One of the most tangible ways Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation is actively meeting the individualized needs of their female patients is by conducting a research study powered by human-centered design called Mayo Clinic OB Nest.

The desired outcome of this forward-thinking project is to provide study participants and their families a variety of ways to interact with their prenatal care providers from home without having to come to the clinic. This infographic details the OB connected care model which includes new service modes such as in-home monitoring, patient-driven appointments, a custom-tailored experience, online communities for patients and appointments from a distance.

Design for good drives an informed eHealth community

Women’s eHealth is dedicated to contributing to the dynamic conversation serving the wider women’s health community and the electronic health landscape. We aim to collaborate with strong minds—a network of individuals who all have the same goal. Join us on Twitter and LinkedIn to improve access to healthcare for family planning and sexual health via eHealth.


This blog was produced by the tekMountain Team of Sean AhlumAmanda SipesBill DiNomeZach Cioffi and Mary Brannock with lead writer Beth Roddy

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