Delivering the message that healthcare is in a time of “massive environmental change,” Nicholas Webb, healthcare strategist, futurist, author, and CEO of Lassen Scientific, kicked off the 2017 Healthcare Design Expo & Conference, on Sunday, Nov. 12, in Orlando, Fla., during the opening keynote presentation, “Disruptions in Healthcare Design—The Good News.”

Working as a beach lifeguard during college, Webb says he not only got to go surfing, but he got his first lessons in learning how to understand an environment and its risks and opportunities—in this case, the ocean and the rip tides and undercurrents that are dangerous to swimmers who don't know how to see them or safely get out. “By understanding the environment, I had the super power of being the rescuer and not the victim,” he says.

So that healthcare organizations don't go the way of some brands in other markets, including retail and hospitality, that didn't survive great market changes, Webb told the audience of healthcare architects, interior designers, owners, planners, and construction professionals that they need to tune into the changes in their environment, such as hyper-consumerization, which allows consumers to get anything they want at any time. This is driving the need for healthcare organizations to “create delicious experiences” to stand out and disrupt current delivery methods as well as customer expectations.

One of the first steps to delivering a fresh approach is understanding the current “experience economy,” which delivers services to engage consumers in a way that creates a memorable event, not just a positive outcome. “I believe the innovation of today is human experience design,” Webb says.  However, most healthcare organizations use patient demographics or other systems of measurement such as clinical efficacy to support their decision making rather than learning what patients desire. “If a patient waits for more than 15 minutes, they go from loving you to hating you,” he says. “Ouch.”

Making his case, Web cited examples of disruptors in other sectors who didn't follow the industry standard and ended up reinventing a market of finding success. Uber, he notes, didn’t replace cabs. “They re-engineered the human experience of getting from one place to another,” he says. Additionally, he says Amazon's opening of physical book stores shouldn’t be blamed for destroying competitor Borders. Rather, while Borders struggled with large stores housing a massive selection of book titles, Amazon took lessons from its digital interface with customers to create a unique in-store experience that delivers a curated selection of its most popular titles chosen by its expert consumers. “It’s about creating relevant touchpoints,” Webb says.

To reinvent the healthcare experience, Webb says healthcare organizations should focus on employing innovation across the patient journey at key touchpoints: pre-touch, including utilizing mobile and digital moments; first touch, which sets the trajectory of the patient experience; core touch, where organizations should consider expectations versus perception and how they can reinvent the core experience; and last touch, which should be memorable. Furthermore, Webb says the organizations doing it right are delivering a holistic experience that’s focused not on meeting but exceeding expectations, including those of its patients as well as its staff.

Wrapping up, Webb says he sees two avenues healthcare organizations can take: staying the course and ignoring the disruption happening in the marketplace or leaning in and “creating new, beautiful experiences.”