15180-illustration-of-a-hypodermic-needle-pvI had some routine blood work done the other day and it just wasn’t fun. Now I wasn’t expecting Disney World, but there was nothing in the experience that made me think of myself as anything other than a human pin cushion. The room was sterile, the chair uncomfortable, and the phlebotomist unsympathetic.

Given the need for injections for vaccinations and routine lab work, why haven’t we figured out how to make the experience less terrifying or at least reduce the anxiety? Having watched my own children getting their shots, I think they would vote for an overhaul.

But can we really change how this process works? So much about getting an immunization or having blood drawn is regulated or needs follow standard medical practices. Is there room for innovation to make it a more customer centered experience?

The answer should be a resounding yes. Even in our most restrictive interactions, there are places where we can make minor adjustments that improve the experience without putting standardization at risk.

Let’s start with vocabulary. Isn’t telling someone that they are going to get a shot setting them up for fear? Could changing how we talk about the experience, change how we perceive it?

There are other questions that we can ask. Could the exam room be more inviting? Are there things that could be done to reduce the anxiety that accompanies knowing that a needle is going to pierce your skin? Music? A more comfortable chair?

The challenge in re-designing a process like childhood immunizations is understanding where things absolutely cannot be changed (e.g. you won’t be allowed to bring your own needle) and where we can have input. If we control the factors that we can adjust, we can change the experience. We need to think about how people interact with the experiences that we create for them, particularly if we want them to return.

Using this mindset, we can change the experiences for the processes that we have control over in our work and that just might improve our results, too.

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