Dubai Municipality

Implementing inclusive service design for urban diversity

Home to over 200 nationalities, Dubai is one of the world’s most diverse megacities. Many cultures, languages and behaviors share experiences and infrastructure in this unique melting pot, and government agencies need to create immersive services that take these variables into consideration.

Dubai has several medical service centers that cater to foreign laborers who must complete annual health check-ups in order to maintain their employment status. Many of these expats have a low level of education and experience language barriers. They’re often not used to interacting with government agencies or dealing with complex official services. Our challenge was to transform the patient experience in an inclusive way, to make sure that the check-up process is easy to understand and navigate – regardless of language proficiency or nationality.

Patients complete an average of eight clinical tests of varying degrees of complexity at different stations throughout the centers. We found that the average customer journey includes more than 30 interaction points and takes an hour and twenty minutes. At the clinics, confusion was common as there was no clear queuing system and patients did not know what was expected of them, causing discomfort and stress. Our designers began by conducting qualitative and quantitative research of all relevant customer segments. We discovered that there’s a lack of understanding of certain needs, such as privacy for females within some cultures.

In just six weeks we transformed one pilot medical service center to meet the new quality framework requirements of the government of Dubai, which is dedicated to supplying all citizens with better and more inclusive service experiences. The transformation included new navigation and floor plans, the country’s first governmental pre-booking system, personalized guidance tools for each patient, and a streamlined patient journey that resulted in a 45 percent reduction in time spent at the clinic. Automated queuing and monitoring systems now control how many and exactly where people are in the clinic at any given point, which helps staff better plan and prioritize.

We also formulated construction guidelines directly with the builders. In designing the clinic’s interior, we used extremely universal symbols, color-coding and numbers (rather than words only) to ensure that everyone easily understands what’s what and where to go. A new educational plan was created to teach staff and management how to conduct new services and how to deliver a positive customer experience for each individual patient.

We believe that as the world becomes smaller, more open and more accessible, designing for diversity as accomplished in Dubai will become a key goal of governments around the world.