Outcomes-based Design and Innovation using a Living Laboratory

There is a new paradigm that combines outcomes research, design and innovation to produce solutions in healthcare and medicine. The Innovation and Design Lab (IDL) at UMBC, a research university, is devoted to creating and publishing new knowledge in the health and wellness industries through a holistic approach to innovation and design research to generate products, tools, and services that improve patients’ health outcomes.

The IDL at UMBC is currently focused on a large collaborative program, “The Hospital of the Future: The Living Laboratory” at the Children’s Center along with the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutes (JHMI).

Innovation is a process, a product and a way of thinking and can generate breakthroughs in medical decision-making or in health service delivery; it can increase clinical effectiveness or efficiency of health care interventions; it can create new products; and innovation can drive medical and scientific advancement.

The IDL’s goal is to foster innovation through collaboration, research and design using the unique environment of a Living Laboratory to create new knowledge.

New innovative processes and thinking at IDL at UMBC, a research university, address the complex problems of building better hospitals, health care environments, and health experiences. Professor David Yager is the Director of the Innovation and Design Lab (IDL) and it is his idea to establish The Living Laboratory and partner with visionary companies to change thinking, processes, the environment, products and, most importantly, to improve patients’ health outcomes. Dr. George Dover is Director of the Department of Pediatrics and Pediatrician-in-Chief at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and it is his idea to integrate innovation into IDL projects as well as integrate research and development partners’ efforts throughout his Department’s daily operations. In this way, Dr. Dover would like IDL’s work to result in improvements to patient and staff safety, improved health outcomes, decreased medical errors, and improved daily operations at the Children’s Center.

The design of solutions from the IDL incorporates both traditional design tools and new methods of careful observation.

Observational research methods include but are not limited to:

– interviews or discussions with experts,
– professionals or end-users,
– use of role-play,
– creation of mock environments, and
– creation of virtual reality (VR) models.

Longitudinal and comparative health outcomes research are also incorporated into the design of solutions prior to and throughout each IDL project to ensure each IDL intervention’s effectiveness and to determine the measurable impact on patients’ health status. At IDL, health outcomes research is fully aligned with all phases of each project to highlight the continuous need for innovative thinking and potential shifts in project direction.

The model for this working environment for IDL combines the designer, with other researchers as necessary. These would include sociologists, psychologists, physicians, computer scientists, engineers, nurses, residents, fellows, medical students, and others while also collaborating with the best of breed in the corporate world.

This is a new and unique paradigm between private and public institutions such as JHMI (private) and UMBC (a public research university) in their collaborations in research, prototyping and operations.

The key to success is the combined skilled set among the various partners, JHMI and UMBC staff and students who work together in harmony to build better processes, services and products.

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