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Design Thinking in the OR? Scrub in!

I began my career in IT, found my way to marketing, but since birth have been raised as the son of an engineer. Any engineer’s house is full of projects and the Pepe’s were no exception. The TV split open on the dining room table, the washing machine pulled apart to fix that darn wobble … and don’t even go near the garage.

I love the contagious curiosity of engineers and their desire to fix things. When developing a solution, we all know it is important to focus on both product fix and the user on the other end. This is where the principles of design thinking can really benefit any industry, including healthcare. Striving for empathy, iterating a minimally-viable product, seeking continuous feedback through observation, data, and interviews. All of these steps lead to better outcomes for patients and caregivers.

The title of this recent article caught my eye, “These five DIY medical devices might surprise you.” (Shout out to the marketer who drafted that clickbait headline, you got me.) As I flipped through the devices, I also wondered about the insight. When did they reach their “a-ha” moment? How many iterations did it take? Was it a purely personal experience (like the engineer who fixed his own heart) or one crafted from hours of observation and data?

At Oliver, we’re lucky to have the Jefferson Health Design Lab in our back yard. JeffDesign brings people from different backgrounds together and promotes inclusive design in healthcare. Recently, we were invited to attend Philly Pitch Night 2019, a culmination of nine months of work by eight medical and industrial design students from Thomas Jefferson University. They conducted in-depth user research and problem identification, then translated their insights into new innovations for neonatal audiology and anesthetic waste gases. Research, fast prototyping, iterative design … we applaud it all! 

I’m excited to see these principles come to my corner of healthcare and packaging. Whether design thinking leads us to an “a-ha” moment or just a better understanding of what our customers and patients go through, the curiosity is well placed. I would love to hear about your examples of good design thinking in new devices, new packaging, or especially in repairing old broken TVs.

Steve Pepe
Vice President, Global Marketing

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