ida institute innovation seminar

Designing a person-centered future: Human-centered design is always at the heart of Ida innovation

By Amanda Farah Cox

The Ida Institute is dedicated to encouraging and implementing person-centered practices in hearing care. But person-centered care isn’t just about involving clients in their own healthcare, it’s also about involving people in the creation of the resources that will include them in their treatment.

That’s why human-centered design has been fundamental to Ida’s innovation approach since the institute’s founding in 2007. Human-centered design allows us to be curious about different possibilities for person-centered care and takes us through a full process of problem solving via different innovation methods. These methods give Ida the opportunity to involve hearing care professionals and people with hearing loss directly in the development of tools and resources – ensuring that the final product meets the needs of the people who will use it. Examples of these development processes can be found throughout Ida’s portfolio of tools and resources.

Telling real stories

Anthropology and ethnography are key elements in human-centered design and crucial to how Ida explores a topic. Visiting clinics, meeting with people with hearing loss and their hearing care professionals, and learning their stories is central to understanding where there are needs gaps.

The immediate results of this research are Ida’s ethnographic videos. These short films, showing real appointments between clinicians and their clients, are valuable teaching tools in and of themselves, and are used in classrooms, presentations, and professional trainings.

These videos are also essential to Ida’s innovation processes. They are embedded in our innovation seminars where the appointments and interviews captured on film are shown to participants to help illustrate the problem the seminar is addressing and inspire the conversations and activities that lead to the development of new resources.

Understand, Explore, Create

The innovation seminars where Ida germinates the ideas for new tool development follow a design thinking process based on the three stages: understand, explore, create. Since 2008, Ida has assembled diverse groups of people from around the globe, whether they are clients or clinicians; work in a hospital or a university; or come from a public or private system. This diversity of perspective helps answer questions like: What circumstances are people working in? How do people perceive the care they receive and what are their unmet needs? What tools and resources will today’s audiology students need in order to become person-centered clinicians tomorrow? A broad range of answers to those questions ultimately guides the development of our resources.

“Our seminars are instrumental in our tool development process,” says Ida Managing Director Lise Lotte Bundesen. “The perspectives, energy, and momentum we get from our seminar participants is second to none.”

As the seminars progress, participants use their understanding of their personal experience and the exploration of their newly acquired knowledge to create prototypes of new resources. After the seminar, these prototypes are developed into new tools and resources that are made freely available to the Ida community.

“Ida was among the first to apply design thinking to hearing care and we’re excited to see its increased prevalence in audiology,” continues Lise Lotte. “Design thinking unleashes creativity and strengthens the user perspective in the innovation process. Our seminars have helped us create foundational tools such as our Motivation Tools and Communication Partner tools, as well as more specialist topics like our Tinnitus Management tools.”

How user feedback shaped a tool

A recent example of an outcome from a human-centered design process that began life in a seminar is My Hearing Explained, a tool that helps professionals communicate hearing test results in a person-centered way. Since its launch in November, My Hearing Explained has become one of Ida’s most popular resources.

To create this tool, Ida spent ten months researching how people perceive the way hearing test results are communicated to them and how they relate to these results. The initial research included focus groups, surveys, in-depth interviews, and clinical observations. This research fed into an innovation workshop with an international group of hearing care professionals, academics, and people with hearing loss who worked together over two days to develop the first tool prototype.

With a prototype in hand, Ida used a user experience process to help us refine the concept. The playful graphic at the center of the tool is instrumental to helping people understand their hearing. But the colorful illustration didn’t always look that way; an earlier version of the tool had a more human appearance than it’s current cartoonish form. The user experience design process helped Ida to choose the right graphic. We displayed the two different designs at our AAA Conference booth and asked visitors for their opinions. Their feedback showed that the abstract illustration resonated more with people than the illustration with more human features. This feedback ended up determining the final look of My Hearing Explained.

The work is never done

The development of tools like My Hearing Explained doesn’t end once Ida releases the tool; resources on the Ida site are always evolving because of a continual process of evaluation to help keep materials current. 
One example of a recent tool overhaul following an evaluation process is the Change Guide.

“The Change Guide focuses on helping people implement change management processes in their workplaces,” explains Lise Lotte. “Originally it followed two tracks: Personal Change and Team Change. Team Change was quite similar to what Practice Change is today and Personal Change looked at how an individual could make changes on their own.”

An evaluation process conducted with members of our community, however, showed that Personal Change wasn’t meeting their needs.

“What we learned from feedback from our community was that individuals didn’t need support in the form of materials and activities – they needed help getting buy in from managers,” says Lise Lotte. 
Thus Ida reevaluated the resource so the Change Guide could be used to show people the value of person-centered care and subsequently encourage a desire to change practice.

Looking to the future 

New innovation methods are always on the horizon and the Ida Institute is always on the lookout for new methods to strengthen our tools. The latest initiative is the living lab.

“Our next human-centered design process will actually allow us to watch the humans at the center of the process and gather real-time input and feedback,” says Lise Lotte. 

A living lab is a human-centered research process that gives the users an opportunity to co-create solutions. The Ida Institute is using this method by syncing video from clinical appointments and watching how existing and new tools are used. It also shows how clinicians might adapt the tools to make them easier to use – feedback that can inform new iterations of the materials. Ida is currently working with a number of clinics to set up living labs in different countries to reflect the realities of different locales and healthcare systems.

“Living labs allow us to watch our tools be used in real time with people with hearing loss while they are in the clinic,” says Lise Lotte. “It’s an unparalleled opportunity to see how our tools are used, how people with hearing loss respond to them, and how we can make them better.”

Human centered design helps us not only create new resources, but also maintain them. By involving hearing care professionals and people with hearing loss every step of the way, the Ida Institute can keep materials current, relevant, and – above all – person-centered.

If you would like to help Ida by providing feedback on tools and other projects, you can sign up for our user experience panel here.