Justin Kennedy-Good and his team at Ara Manawa at Auckland City Hospital are re-imagining how healthcare is delivered.
“We want patients, whānau and clinicians to have a better experience and we’re doing that by re-imagining the spaces, systems, stuff and activity of staff involved in delivering health care,” he says.
Justin is the Director of Ara Manawa, an in-house interdisciplinary design team. He came to Ara Manawa after holding a range of portfolios at the hospital, including the set-up of a production planning team, supporting lean and design in ward refurbishments, and co-directing the Design for Health and Wellbeing Lab venture with AUT.
He describes Ara Manawa as a small design team that does things differently – a research and innovation focus, connections to the local research and innovation eco-system outside the hospital, and meaningful problems for students, researchers and industry to solve.
“We might get alongside an existing product innovation from the Auckland Bioengineering Institute and explore how that might work, or be enhanced, through conversations with nurses in the ward, or we might spot nurses prototyping to solve a known issue that we can offer to a university to solve.”
He gives the example of an Ear Nose and Throat specialist looking for a water manometer to help her laryngectomy patient re-use her sense of smell. “We reached out to our Med Tech colleagues who put us in touch with the engineering school at the University of Canterbury. We had a device within a couple of weeks.
“Our pain nurses manage patients who’ve had lymph nodes removed and can’t have cuffs or lines put into the affected arm or leg. Victoria University of Wellington and their design school have two PhD design students solving this problem with us.”
Another example is a simple visual solution to automated ward doors potentially swinging into people. ”Our team came up with some options and in the end, it was a rather simple set of decals around the door area. But simplicity takes a lot of time to think through and many of our operations teams don’t have that time.”
Kennedy-Good describes his team’s strength as the ability to frame opportunities for them to solve and to have patients, whanau or staff involved in the process. This might mean an interdisciplinary design team; stepping in to support a Lean initiative run by a sister team in the hospital who programme manage strategic initiatives across the district health board; or offering the opportunity out to a university partner.
“If you look at successful, high volume, service organisations, they have very large teams of designers improving their services and looking at what products are on the horizon. The way we partner to access that capability and capacity is an innovation in and of itself given healthcare has significant resource constraints. It’s also a tough environment to break into for those with innovative ideas or products, so we’re working on how to support a better flow of ideas and innovations.”
Kennedy-Good says they’re currently focusing on “how” they innovate. “For example, how do we design in partnership with Māori, particularly for planned large infrastructure? How do we engage with the innovation eco system and emerging deep technologies such as the Vexev blood flow imaging technology?”
The team is also looking at the physical design of spaces. “Refurbishment of our whanau room was a big project, supported by the Auckland Health Foundation and external architects. We’re working on projects across the Department of Forensic Pathology, Mobile Breast Screening services, and Cancer services. We recently started an initiative with the University of Auckland Creative Writing School to run a reader/writer series inside the hospital, and we’re scoping opportunities in business, law, and other disciplines”.
More broadly, they’re talking to researchers and innovators to understand how Ara Manawa can better support the identification, acceleration, and translation of opportunities to benefit patients, whanau or staff.
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