Interviews shot in NYC and Palo Alto, CA in August, 2010
“In the early 2000s, Mayo Clinic physician Nicholas LaRusso began asking himself a question: if we can test new drugs in clinical trials, can we also test new kinds of doctor-patient interactions?
Although over the last 50 years there had been enormous advances in diagnosing and treating disease, the systems of delivering health care had changed little. In fact, new tests, treatments, and procedures meant that the health care experience had become increasingly complex for provider and patient alike.
But what if there were better ways to provide care? LaRusso had heard that design firms like IDEO were offering consulting services in the area of human factors design, and he wondered if their work might be applicable in the health care setting. Mayo had a history of innovation in care delivery, starting with the invention of the patient medical record in the early 20th century, and the clinic was always looking for ways to improve both patient outcomes and the health care experience.
In 2002, in consultation with IDEO, LaRusso and colleague Dr. Michael Brennan opened a skunkworks outpatient lab called SPARC, where physicians and designers could test hypotheses about ways in which providers and patients interact. They dealt with a number of challenges: recruiting busy physicians to a new and untested type of research, crossing the cultural divide between physicians and designers, doing experimentation with real patients, and gaining institutional support for their unusual endeavor.
What would a major change in health care delivery look like? How should the Center for Innovation's impact be measured? Were the center's structure and processes appropriate for transformational change?”