Reading: Designing a “Thinking System” to Reduce the Human Burden of Care Delivery


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Commentary / Editorial

Designing a “Thinking System” to Reduce the Human Burden of Care Delivery


Gurvaneet S. Randhawa ,

National Cancer Institute, US
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Yan Xiao,

University of Texas at Arlington, US
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Paul N. Gorman

Oregon Health and Science University, US
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Cancer patients interact with clinicians who are distributed across locations and organizations. This makes it difficult to coordinate care and adds to the burden of cancer care delivery. Failures in care coordination can harm patients. The rapid growth in the number of cancer survivors and the increasing complexity of cancer care has kindled an interest in new care delivery models.

Information technology (IT) is an important component of care delivery. While IT can potentially enhance collaborative work among people distributed across locations, organizations and time, the current design and implementation of health IT adds to the human burden and often makes it a part of the problem instead of the solution.

A new paradigm is needed, therefore, to drive innovations that reframe health IT as an enabler (and a component) of a “thinking system,” in which patients, caregivers, and clinicians, even when distributed across locations and time, can collaborate to deliver high-quality care while decreasing the burden of care delivery. In a thinking system, the design of collaborative work in health care delivery is based on an understanding of complex interplay among social and technological components. We propose six core design properties for a thinking system: task coordination; information curation; creative and flexible organizing; establishing a common ground; continuity and connection; and co-production. A thinking system is needed to address the complexity of coordination, meet the rising expectation of personalized care, relieve the human burden in care delivery, and to deliver the best quality care that modern science can provide.

How to Cite: Randhawa GS, Xiao Y, Gorman PN. Designing a “Thinking System” to Reduce the Human Burden of Care Delivery. eGEMs (Generating Evidence & Methods to improve patient outcomes). 2019;7(1):18. DOI:
  Published on 24 Apr 2019

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