Redesigning Breast Cancer Diagnostics
Process designers reduce breast cancer waiting lists by 90%

A design company was hired to speed up the diagnostics time for breast cancer patients in a Norwegian hospital. The result? A reduced waiting time by 90%.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women in Norway, and 1 in 8 Norwegian women will be diagnosed in their lifetime. Worldwide, breast cancer kills millions, and early detection and diagnosis is absolutely crucial in both treatment and recovery. However, even in wealthy and efficient countries like Norway, women often have to wait for several months before they are properly diagnosed. This is often due to the referral and diagnostics process being structured around the health professionals’ routines. Everything is segmented, with no point of contact throughout the process. This results in an inefficient and incoherent experience, with little support for a highly sensitive user group.

To address this, design strategists Designit created a patient journey with new back-stage routines. The Redesigning Breast Cancer Diagnostics project resulted in a team-based daily structure that could process patients through to final diagnosis and a treatment plan in four days. This used to take up to 12 weeks! Specifically, they completely rethought how a hospital service can handle the entire referral and diagnostic process: from a patient's first visit with her primary doctor through to her final diagnosis at the hospital. For example, patients are now systematically called no later than two days after their visit at the primary doctor to schedule the appointment.

Approximately 5,000 women go through the system in Norway each year, and even though 'only' 20 - 25% of these women need treatment for cancer, the new service has a tremendous impact on the amount of stress for the remaining 75 - 80% of the women who still need to go through the referral and examination process.

Designed by
Marie Hartmann, Annie Feddersen Hjelmervik & Therese Borchgrevink - Norway