February 12, 2015

5 Awful Tips for Designers in Health Care

Encouraged by the last website discussion, our lovably clueless and fearless hospital leader returns to give more design “advice” to his health care marketing team.

Good morning! As I was turning into the parking lot the other day, I was looking at our logo and started thinking about design. So last week, at the end of our meeting of the Committee for Care Coordination, Technology, Safety, Facility Planning and Sundry Acquisition, I carved out four and a half minutes to give you some direction on our health system’s design. I hope you are ready to take some notes because I feel like these suggestions are spot-on.

1. If I can’t see that billboard logo from my house, it’s too darn small!

I snapped this photo on the highway with my Nokia. Look at how huge General Hospital’s logo is! Look at it! No wonder patients are flocking to them. Our logo needs to be just as big or even bigger…in everything we do. Brand messaging and calls-to-action mean nothing unless the patient knows without a shred of doubt who we are. They need to know that the biggest logo means the best hospital—I want the biggest logo on the block.

2. If a brochure doesn’t impress Dr. Jones…it’s a total failure!

As you know, Dr. Jones is a brilliant physician. He’s got so many accreditations and letters after his name that his business card could double as an eye exam chart. He’ll send you a five page spec sheet on that new XLT5000-R Mega Scanner. He wants these specs incorporated into the new cancer brochure. You don’t have to include all of them…but let’s shoot for about 85 percent. Lose all that extra stuff you call “breathing space” and kill that section on patient FAQs also. Dr. Jones is right. Patients figure stuff out. What they’re really gonna want to know is the gradient radius of the XLT5000-R.

3. Be sure to include the cafeteria staff and retired foundation board members in the design approval process!

Do you know why the Committee for Care Coordination, Technology, Safety, Facility Planning and Sundry Acquisition is so successful? It’s all about consensus. If you think about it, we’re all experts in design because we’re all consumers! Don’t begin production until you hear from everyone. I bet even that sweet little greeter Edna has some good feedback. Oh yeah, be sure Dr. Jones is included too, he’s good looking and like super smart.

4. Bombard our patients with multiple messages in your design!

Our patients are just like us. They’re multi-taskers! We need to make sure we cram as much perspectives and messages into every design execution we can. That’s efficiency! When you can’t decide whether an infographic or a lifestyle image is the best direction, do both. This direct mail for screenings has plenty of room to include a care continuum diagram and maybe even our mission and vision statement too. Oh yeah, don’t forget about all of our awards!

5. Be sure to follow all of the trendy design and advertising fads from other industries!

Should we have a lizard mascot? Doesn’t the new Pepsi logo remind you of a Physician Group? What about a talking baby? Think outside the box! If it can sell chicken nuggets it can sell our new emergency department.

I’ll forward you some more visual executions that I laid out in Microsoft Word. That paperclip guy that pops up is really helpful and I think you’ll see that I’ve got us on the right track.

Thankfully, your boss probably isn’t this out of touch when it comes to design. We hope our sarcasm inspired some empathy for how difficult it can be for an analytical mind to grasp some of the abstract elements of design. There are effective strategies for engaging your leadership about good design. You can help them understand the value of a sound design process. We’ll be sharing some of these strategies in future posts as we continue to focus on healthcare design in 2015. If your design projects have you pulling your hair out, at least you’re not this guy: