We recently published a post about the customer-centric redesign CapitalOne is testing with their new cafes and what healthcare might be able to take from the project. Then we called up Lucas Artusi, Senior Systems Designer at the Design Institute for Health, to get his reaction. The Design Institute for Health team spends their time working to build a human-centered healthcare system through physical design, technology, UI/UX, engagement patterns, and more, so Artusi is perfectly positioned to talk about a program like the CapitalOne cafes and whether it’s relevant for healthcare.


We’ll have more on Artusi’s thoughts around design in healthcare in later posts. (You can also listen to the full conversation above if you can’t wait.) For now though, his reaction to CapitalOne, The Clark Clinic, and where physical design falls within the healthcare hierarchy.

Artusi was generally positive about what CapitalOne is testing. “They’re in a very established industry operating under some complex economic and regulatory structures. It’s easy for a company [like that] to get stuck in their ways.”

Also important is the limited scope of the redesign. Artusi pointed out that the bank is likely treating the cafes as an experiment. That’s the right approach, he said. “Trying to ground banking in things that are familiar to people and [operate] where people exist in their day-to-day life is a great place to start.”

Healthcare is in a similar position of needing to be approachable and relatable to people in their everyday lives. People think about their health all the time, but not “healthcare.”

And, like banking, we have a specific idea of what healthcare is. Banks as a place “where you come in and talk to a teller or advisor, you got a box of checks or a new debit card,” and healthcare is where you go to get a test, shot or procedure. CapitalOne is trying to change that mindset to make banking more relatable and comfortable, healthcare can and should do the same.

CapitalOne is trying to change that mindset to make banking more relatable and comfortable, healthcare can and should do the same. Click To Tweet

Artusi noted that pediatric practices are closer to getting this right than other areas of healthcare. He said, [Pediatric practices] get it. They adapt their environment to the population they’re serving.” They also adapt the way they treat their population, which in this case includes “two very different people:” kids who can’t tell you what’s going on and their parents. It’s an attainable goal for other healthcare providers, too. “The thing [it comes down to] is, are you thoughtful enough to see it and do something about it? It doesn’t necessarily have to cost a lot of money,” he said.

“Being thoughtful” covers everything from physical design to services rendered. Furniture is a great example, according to Artusi. Chairs (and interior design in general) tend to be the last thing to be selected and purchased when building a new medical clinic. By then, the money and time is gone, so interior design “basically becomes an afterthought” and you end up with beige vinyl. Instead, it should be part of the overall plan from the beginning, as we’ve seen with The Clark Clinic at Swedish Covenant.

However, Artusi had words of caution for putting the cart before the horse – both for our example of CapitalOne and for healthcare providers:

“I worry a little bit that [CapitalOne is] taking a similar step to what healthcare would want to do. Let’s put out some great coffee and make the space feel really nice and make people forget that they’re in a bank. And the truth is that people are not going to forget they’re in a bank […] It’s easy to put out good coffee, it’s easy to pick out nicer furniture. It’s really hard to create a compelling service offering that feels really differentiated and really human.”

Creating a well designed practice means those services take the entire patient journey into account, said Artusi. “[It’s about] who the different people are that are going to be seeing these patients, who’s going to greet them at the door, what’s that experience going to feel like.” This extends to before and after the visit, too: “How do [providers] proactively reach out to them, communicate with them, invite them in? What do [providers] do after they leave?” The implication here is that things are not going to go well if the waiting room looks great but the care back behind the door is lousy.

With that in mind, here’s the kicker:

“A great physical environment will facilitate a great service but will not compensate for a service model that doesn’t have intentionality given to it […] That’s the concern I always have when there’s an overindexing on physical space and amenities. Amenities are not services.

'Amenities are not services' - Lucas Artusi of @DesignInHealth on the proper relationship between physical design and compelling care in #healthcare. #designthinking #HumanCenteredDesign Click To Tweet

Photo by Martin Péchy on Unsplash

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