Digital Transformation: Guiding patients and their loved ones through the healthcare ecosystem

Written by
Joris Hens
Innovation Consultant
08 apr 2024 . 9 mins read
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Our healthcare system is under big pressure, as the demand for care is increasing while staff shortage is growing. Digital transformation holds great potential to improve health outcomes and enhance efficiency to save costs. However, from a human perspective, digital transformation also brings new challenges.

In this article, we explore four human-centred challenges that digitalisation in healthcare encounters, what you can do to overcome them and why designers have a meaningful role in this transition. We illustrate these challenges with real-life use cases and our expert’s and collaboration’s experiences.

Digitalisation can make healthcare less accessible

While digitalisation offers opportunities to improve efficiency, it can also make services less accessible for some people. Around 53% of the world’s population, 3.7 billion people, didn’t have internet access by the end of 2020, as per the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). This means moving crucial healthcare services online creates big accessibility challenges. Many people struggle to adjust to digital healthcare, widening the gap between those who are good with technology and those who are not.

In the Netherlands, about 4 million people struggle with language and digital skills. In this context, we teamed up with Cordaan, a care organisation in Amsterdam. The goal was to make health information easier to understand for patients with low health literacy and non-western backgrounds, focusing on people with swallowing problems and Parkinson’s disease.

Through a process that included interviews, design sprints, prototyping, and user testing, we uncovered the power of animated videos. These videos presented complex diseases from the patient’s point of view, ensuring cultural sensitivity and clear communication. By embracing their perspective, we connected better, providing information that empowered individuals to make informed healthcare choices. 


Curious to learn more about our journey and the insights gained along the way? Dive deeper into the full Cordaan project on our webpage for a step-by-step exploration of our process and learnings.

People have high (digital) service expectations

With the conveniences of and guidance within commercial services we see that high digital service standards are set, think about watching series on Netflix or ordering groceries online. But (digital) services in healthcare often do not meet these standards and expectations. Although Healthcare is a context where proper guidance and information provision are most needed, it’s often lacking for both patients and their loved ones.

In collaboration with RAK, a collective of healthcare institutions in and around Amsterdam, Koos committed to a project to provide elderly individuals with a smoother transition to permanent care homes. People lacked proper assistance in this process, resulting in unexpected responsibilities, uncertainties and stress.

Through interviews with stakeholders, customer journey mapping, ideation sessions, and prototype testing, we developed a digital platform to streamline the moving process and empower individuals to make well-informed decisions about their future. The result? An informative and WCAG-proof website that guides users through each step of the transition from rehabilitation to permanent care, providing clarity and support in a highly emotional and uncertain time.

Potential decrease in human interaction

The push for efficiency in healthcare through digitalisation may leave patients feeling disconnected. With more tasks and care being automated or done remotely (e.g. telemonitoring services), patients miss the human touch they value in their interactions with healthcare providers. While digitalisation has benefits, it is crucial to maintain personalised care to ensure patient satisfaction.

We partnered up with Eurocross, a Dutch emergency response centre for people who need medical help when they are abroad, to improve the efficiency of their service while maintaining customer satisfaction. Eurocross wanted to digitise without giving patients the feeling it would become harder to speak to a real human. 

We started by diving deep into their operations and customer experience and talking to employees and customers to grasp their challenges. Together with stakeholders, we identified opportunities for improvement and developed tailored solutions. By testing and refining our ideas, we digitised parts of Eurocross’ and customer processes, cutting case handling time by 25% and boosting their Net Promoter Score for customer support.

In the end, this shift freed up time for Eurocross to focus more on personalised customer interactions, making their service even better.


Learn more about the Eurocross case and how Koos enhanced the human touch in healthcare service delivery through digitalisation

Digitalisation is not always the right answer

It is essential to recognise that digital solutions should not be the default answer to improve the patient experience. While offering undeniable benefits, they don’t come without limitations. In certain situations, traditional, analogue approaches may prove more effective in addressing the needs of patients. Innovation by design is about understanding the context, identifying needs and creating solutions that match these. Digitalisation is only a means to an end, and should never be the goal.

In partnership with BENU and VGZ, we unravelled the complex, multi-stakeholder process of medicine switches. 

In this project, we began by interviewing patients, specialists, pharmacists, and general practitioners to understand the issue. We visualised our research in a multi-stakeholder customer journey to align experiences. Stakeholder sessions helped build understanding and fostered collaboration. Ideation led to various concepts, addressing policies, processes, and the switching experience.

After evaluating solutions for ease of implementation and impact, we focused on resolving tensions in pharmacies quickly. We designed a toolkit based on research and benchmarks, iterated through focus groups, and tested it in two pharmacy pilots. The toolkit proved effective, especially for elderly patients managing multiple medications, and was seamlessly integrated into over 400 pharmacies nationwide.

The face-to-face nature of pharmacy interactions made a physical solution more accessible and practical. This approach improved communication and support during the switching process, ensuring better outcomes for patients.


Learn more about the BENU and VGZ and how Koos enhanced the human touch in healthcare service delivery through physical design.

Why design has a meaningful role in digitalising healthcare

Design plays a crucial role in the digitalisation of healthcare, bringing unique skills and perspectives to tackle complex challenges. The ability to innovate, visualise systems, collaborate with multiple stakeholders, and prioritise human-centred design, makes this an invaluable approach to improving healthcare delivery.

Design offers a fresh perspective

Designers bring a new way of thinking to healthcare, combining creativity with industry knowledge. This fresh perspective allows us not to be hindered by existing ecosystems. However, designers must have the right knowledge about the industry to create feasible and viable solutions


Design makes complex interactions and systems visual

Healthcare systems are complex, with many moving parts. Designers excel at making these systems understandable through visualisation. By creating visual representations, we simplify complexity, enabling better decision-making and solution development.


Design uses a co-creative multi-stakeholder approach

Designers facilitate collaboration among diverse stakeholders, ensuring everyone’s needs and perspectives are considered. By fostering a co-creative environment, we generate innovative solutions owned and supported by all relevant stakeholders.


Design quickly moves from wicked problems to tangible solutions

Designers embrace an iterative approach, rapidly prototyping and testing solutions to complex problems. This agile methodology allows us to learn quickly and adapt our solutions, accelerating progress towards tangible outcomes.


Design works human-centred

Designers prioritise the needs and experiences of individuals, placing human well-being at the centre of healthcare design. By understanding the holistic needs of all users (e.g. patients, doctors, loved ones), we create empathetic and intuitive solutions tailored to enhance the human experience.

How will digital transformation contribute to system and societal changes? 

Digital transformation holds promise for improving and reshaping healthcare systems. By combining technology and design, we aim to improve health outcomes and enhance efficiency to save costs.

Looking ahead, we see our impact going beyond improving experiences and (digital) touchpoints. While we have made strides, we recognise the need to address underlying issues rather than just applying quick fixes. For instance, in the BENU | VGZ case, instead of simply streamlining processes, what if we could redesign the policy around the need for frequent medication switches altogether?

Our approach is geared towards creating more human-centred healthcare systems and policies. Should designers start diving into systemic design or policy design? And how? We are eager to explore it all.

Koos envisions future-proof healthcare systems. Through strategic design and interdisciplinary collaboration, we can shape a healthcare landscape that’s not only responsive but sustainable for generations.

Are you ready to dive into the future of healthcare?

Reach one of the experts if you want to know more about our experience within the Healthcare industry.

Laura Schrauwen

Our visual thinker abuses her beloved drawing tablet to express herself and has a special feeling for healthcare projects.

Joris Hens

Our service designer combines the user's qualitative perception with quantitative data like no one else.
Written by
Joris Hens
Innovation Consultant
08 apr 2024 . 9 mins read
Share this article