Developing Human-Centered AI Solutions for Healthcare

Jan 21, 2020

Christina Nelson, Communication Specialist

Human-centered design is the process of involving users in the design process to develop solutions that increase user satisfaction.  In human-centered design, the development process is guided by the fundamental challenges facing users when completing tasks. This is a break from the practice of designing solutions without collaborating with users, resulting in solutions that often fail to meet users’ needs. 

Designing meaningful healthcare solutions requires involving multiple perspectives in design to improve quality of care. We have identified three areas in which AI developers can best collaborate with people to design healthcare solutions that are fit for human needs. 

1. Understanding specialists’ needs

Designing human-centered solutions for healthcare begins with understanding the needs of medical specialists. As important as it is to ask what users want, it is essential to observe them in their clinical environment. This provides developers with insight into specialists’ experiences in their clinical environment, and their daily interactions with patients and staff. This is an area where we can continue to work to understand how AI can aid in task automation to reduce burnout and improve care delivery. 

2. Unlocking value for referring clinicians

Moving one step further, engaging referring clinicians in the design process can result in solutions that improve quality of care and reduce costs, while ensuring that the patient experience is valued. Understanding the interaction between specialists and referring clinicians can help developers identify how AI can be used to generate useful information that is not currently provided to clinicians. 

We recommend getting started by observing referring clinicians in their work environment to gain insight into the following questions: 

  • What does the interaction between referring clinicians look like in their clinical environment?
  • What are referring clinicians thinking when they receive a report?
  • What information do users wish they knew to make more informed decisions? 

3. Improving the patient experience

Understanding patient needs can bring solutions to healthcare that create more engaging experiences for patients. This is an opportunity where teams can work with patientto understand how AI can create meaningful interactions between medical personnel and patients. 

As an example, our team has worked on a collaborative project with cardiologists that aims to increase patient engagement by producing a 3D visualization of the art structure and coronary artery tree from a CT angiogram exam. This way, patients can better understand the results of their exams through a 3D rendering. We believe that creating more engaging experiences for patients may lead to improvements in patient satisfaction scores and in their clinical outcomes. We invite other teams of researchers to consider how patients can be included in the development process to bring advanced solutions to healthcare. 

Allowing empathy to guide design

As we transition into a new decade, product development that is rooted in human-centered strategies will help produce outcomes that solve the most pressing challenges people face today. 

We recommend that developers take the following steps to design human-centered solutions for healthcare:

1. Involve healthcare clinicians: designing meaningful solutions requires involving users throughout the development process to identify opportunities to improve the clinical workflow. From our own experience, we have found that performing a contextual inquiry in the environment in which your users work will help you develop a thorough understanding of the daily tasks, constraints, and challenges that AI can be applied to.

2. Bring in multi-disciplinary perspectives: Embedding subject matter experts alongside your R&D team allows for a comprehensive look into the problem space to identify challenges that may be overlooked. Including specialists, referring clinicians, and patients in the design process will help your team develop solutions that integrate seamlessly into the clinical workflow while delivering more engaging patient experiences.

3. Take an iterative approach: In our experience developing solutions for healthcare, we have been reminded of the importance of taking an iterative approach to development. We recommend that teams prioritize developing solutions that solve users’ most pressing clinical challenges first and add functionality over time in order to bring meaningful solutions through the regulatory process.