Inspiring Health

Inspiring Health- Seeking a Better Life for Those With Chronic Disease

"Patients don’t get vacations,” is how one man describes his life with chronic illness. As a patient, it is impossible to escape the challenges of a complicated chronic health condition. Amy Williams and her clinical practice redesign team seek a better life for those with chronic disease. Krisa Ryan, a member of the Center of Innovation, collaborates with Williams and her team to improve the quality of life for the people who are suffering from the ongoing struggles of kidney diseases in a new experience of Re-engineered Dialysis, or “Project Red.”
Inspiring HealthIn the United States, over 26 million individuals have kidney-related illnesses, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of annual expenditures in Medicare. Due to these steep numbers, a team of experts including doctors, dietitians, social workers, finance experts, and others began a journey to reengineer dialysis. Williams and her team were driven to enhance the patient experience, and reduce the costs of treatment. A few months later, Ryan, a designer at the Center for Innovation, stepped in to provide a voice for the patient. Her role was to interview patients and discover their major burdens. She found that these chronically-ill patients spend an immense amount of time and effort committed to treatment of complex conditions.  By continued focus on the patient needs, Ryan, Williams, and the other team members worked to improve the overall patient experience and care delivery.

First, they created process maps in order to examine common goals between the patient and the care team.  After determining the similarities between the medical and nonmedical standpoint, the team reframed their treatment goals, considering the intentions of both sides. With this new point of view, they created eight personas, or stories to help define and understand real life experiences. Using personas as a guide, they tested interventions and evaluated how well a patient would be supported. Also, they developed educational materials for patients to help them make the autonomous decisions.

From their work, they made a flexible and sustainable system of care. Now, roles are more effectively defined within a medical care team, and communication is increased. Also, there has been decreased spending on unnecessary costs. For patients, palliative care can be implemented more efficiently in order to get a head start on the best treatment options.

The overall outcome has been substantial, with a report of 40% decrease in patient hospitalizations. Both the patient and medical team have experienced increased satisfaction. This video captures how Project Red has helped improve quality of standards, and inspires similar ventures in the near future.

Click here to watch their presentation.

Bogenschutz writer

Guest Post by Lada Bogenschutz, Senior Student University of Minnesota, Rochester.