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Designing out waiting times for breast cancer patients

  • Case Reducing time from referral to diagnosis by 90%
  • Client Oslo University Hospital
  • Industry Healthcare
  • Year 2015
  • Capabilities Service Design

Oslo University Hospital, the largest hospital in Scandinavia, approached us to reduce the time to diagnosis, and improve the overall experience for breast cancer patients during this difficult time.

Insights

In order to gain a common understanding of the patient’s journey, our joint OUH and Designit team facilitated a workshop with 40 employees across the hospital’s departments, as well as in-depth interviews with patients themselves. One of the most remarkable insights was a fundamental difference in perspective:

"For a woman, she becomes a patient the moment she discovers a lump in her breast. For the system, a woman only becomes a patient after cancer is diagnosed".

Solution

Recognizing the important role they play in their patients’ lives, the hospital staff worked with the designers to completely rethink the patient’s path from GP to diagnosis. Using service design methods, they came up with ways to work differently with new routines to reduce the diagnosis period. 

The new process also considered the patient’s experience along every step of the journey. After finding that a lack of clarity compounded the stress of waiting, we designed materials to help patients understand the next steps of their diagnosis and bring peace of mind. 

For a woman, she becomes a patient the moment she discovers a lump in her breast. For the system, a woman only becomes a patient after cancer is diagnosed.

Impact

With a 90% reduction in time from referral to diagnosis, from 12 weeks to a total of seven days, this has now become the precursor to the national standardized procedure for breast cancer and psychiatric treatment, introduced in January 2015.

Awards

Norwegian ‘Award for Design Excellence’; the Service Design Award; IxDA award in both the disruptive and People’s Choice category; INDEX: Award finalist. 

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