BACKGROUND: Refugee and immigrant populations have diverse cultural factors that affect their access to health care and must be considered when building a new clinical space. Health design thinking can help a clinical team evaluate and consolidate these factors while maintaining close contact with architects, patients' community leaders, and hospital or institutional leadership. A diverse group of clinicians, medical students, community leaders and architects planned a clinic devoted to refugee and immigrant health, a first-of-its-kind for South Philadelphia.
METHODS: The planning process and concept design of this wellness center is presented as a design case study to demonstrate how principles and methods of human-centered design were used to create a community clinic. Design thinking begins with empathizing with the end users' experiences before moving to ideation and prototyping of a solution. These steps were accomplished through focus groups, a design workshop, and iterations of the center's plan.
RESULTS: Focus groups were thematically analyzed and generated two themes of access and resources and seven subthemes that informed the design workshop. A final floor plan of the wellness center was selected, incorporating priorities of all stakeholders and addressing issues of disease prevention, social determinants of health, and lifestyle-related illness that were relevant to the patient population.
CONCLUSIONS: Design thinking methods are useful for health care organizations that must adapt to the needs of diverse stakeholders and especially populations that are underserved or displaced. While much has been written on the theory and stages of design thinking, this study is novel in describing this methodology from the beginning to the end of the process of planning a clinical space with input from the patient population. This study thus serves as a proof of concept of the application of design thinking in planning clinical spaces.
Solomon, Ellen; Joa, Brandon; Coffman, Shandon; Faircloth, Billie; Altshuler, Marc; and Ku, Bon, "Designing for Community Engagement: User-Friendly Refugee Wellness Center Planning Process and Concept, a Health Design Case Study" (2023). Department of Family & Community Medicine Faculty Papers. Paper 71.
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