Thinkwell Insights

Thinkwell Insights

Come Hear Thinkwell Case Studies at Conferences this Fall

At MGMA on Monday Oct 14 at 1:30p
Beyond Hospitality: Lessons in Experience Design from Themed Entertainment

At NGPX on Tuesday Dec 3 at 12:10p
“Case Study: The Parallels Between Theme Park Design and Achieving The Quality, Performance and Human Experience Objectives for 21st Century Healthcare”


Listen to the MGMA Insights podcast where Cynthia Sharpe (Principal of Cultural Attractions and Research for Thinkwell Group) discusses what healthcare can learn from entertainment experience design.

Seven Key Dimensions Factor Into An Organization’s EQ (Experience Quality): How Does Yours Rate?

In a study evaluating the factors requires to develop a scoring system for experience quality in hospitality environments the authors hypothesized experience quality (EQ) as a multifactorial construct consisting of nine elements, including “fun/entertainment” and “immersion/ escapism”. However, the results of the study were different, validating a second-order EQ construct that consists of seven elements; their relatively high regression weights indicated that both psychological, symbolic and cognitive outcomes, on the one hand, and interaction with physical and social environments, on the other hand, are equally important.

The seven elements, in order of their importance by regression weight, are:

  • Emotional-related experiences
  • Atmospherics
  • Staff-customer interaction
  • Customer- customer interaction
  • Learning
  • Lifestyle
  • Security

A second study reinforced staff-customer interaction, atmospherics and customer- customer interaction as paying especially critical roles in experience, satisfaction and loyalty.

A third study reveals the most relevant moments of truth within an overall experience by tracking emotions – “minute by minute” — generated by discrete service encounter within the overall experience, and how the memory of emotions associated with a particular service encounter affected the appraisal of the overall experience; a negative experience at a ticket counter can overshadow a subsequent delightful experience with a feature or game. (Source:

Thinkwell Insight #1:

These three articles have direct implications to the design of healthcare experiences, and the importance of:

  1. Managing experience continuity throughout the organization
  2. Acknowledging the power of emotion and emotional memory to influence the overall assessment of an experience
  3. Looking at experience – and the ‘take-home” memory of satisfaction, a from a multifactorial perspective, with some of the factors not traditionally considered in healthcare setting
  4. The need for an ‘experience management master plan” to balance the organizations approach to each of these seven elements

Healthcare, systems of practice are often designed around technical requirements, but then but fail because they do not account for how people actually think and behave, especially when they are under stress or duress.

Case Western Reserve Professor Richard Buchanan, former head of the Carnegie Mellon School of Design, wrote an insightful analysis of the limitations of ‘systems-thinking’ and why experience needs to be factored into the design of places, processes and service platforms. (Source:

Thinkwell Insight #2:

This study is a reminder that a patient’s satisfaction and level of affinity will not be based solely on how pleasant the colors are in the waiting room (SENSE), or the expertise and skill of the clinicians who see them (THINK), or even their bodily experiences (ACT). It provides some insight as to why systems of practice designed to meet technical requirements fail: they do not account for the human factors – tactile, emotive, and cognitive — that affect their capacity to fully realize the patient-level or organizational goals. In blunt terms: systems of practice fail to account for the fact that emotion, not reason, factors heavily into how people think, behave, and make choices. This brings to mind the work of Dacher Kelter, a psychology professor at the University of California Berkeley and an expert in the social functions of emotion, whose insights also have reflective implications on the practice of medicine and delivery of care.

A system is generally defined as a “relationship of parts that work together in an organized manner to accomplish a common purpose” and are typically thought of in terms of structure and process. However, achieving the intent and purpose of a system requires a bit more than the “construction” and “arrangement” of its parts. Taking from Dr. Buchanan, experience design “turns away from the complexity of situations and surroundings and toward the obstacles and problems faced by human beings in concrete situations, creating environments that may support and improve the quality of human experience”. It is most interesting that when architects and consultants engage a new healthcare client, they first visit the facility and talk to the staff; this then becomes a perceptual filter through which they view the community that is being service. Experience design would have them immerse themselves in the community first and bring that as the filter through which they view the organization.

The “Experience Economy” is Changing the Nature and Dynamics of Destinations

Google’s Director of User Experience joined a number of distinguished colleagues from psychology, computer science, interaction design and architecture to introduce the concept of “human-building interaction” to address the complexity of human interactive experiences with the built environments. (Source:

Thinkwell Insight #3:

Increasingly, location-based entertainment, family entertainment centers, museums and cultural attractions are engaging experience designers to create a “visitor experience master plan’ before calling the architects, whether for a new facility or for a renovation or ‘reimagination’ of an existing facility.

The experience master plan reflects the intent and purpose of the structure and maps out the nature of the human interactive experience of the built environment. The socio-technical function of a space then shifts to the foreground and drives the spatial-configurational and physical-material aspect of a building.

In this article, the authors consider how ‘interaction designers’ can inform architecture and how the built environment can become an active component of experiences and interactions, not just an environment where they take place.

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