This article deals with the association of design and health in the broadest sense.
The world of healthcare, today, is subject to a great paradox. Surrounded by technical and technological innovations to improve care, major players such as carers and patients are still evolving in an archaic system. It gives little room for thoughts on how to facilitate their daily lives in order to save time and reduce stress. Design tools may be able to respond creatively to these new public health challenges.
How might we make the patient care process more fluid? How can we save time for caregivers? How can we improve communication between healthcare givers, patients and accompanying persons ?
In this article , health is dealt with in the broadest sense. Thus it does not only consider the absence of pathology but also the stability of our environment and way of life, our well-being, our comfort, respect for others and the ability of our environment to create and innovate in a sustainable way.
A strong link between digital and healthcare will be established through the point of view of our agency.
Design tools to support health innovation
Design and health, in the collective consciousness, may seem like two topics far away from each other. However, the objectives of the business lines related to these sectors of activity are similar and complementary.
Caregivers must be attentive to their patients so that they can establish a precise diagnosis of their physical and/or psychological situation to then treat their pathology. They generally work as a team to share their skills and improve the health status of these patients.
As for designers, their role is to study the environment as best as they can: analyse daily activities, interview users. Their aim is to identify the delicate and difficult moments at which the most suitable, simple, yet efficient and sustainable solution can be found to improve the general experience.
The medical act itself is never isolated. It is part of a global and sometimes complex process that can lead to stressful situations for both patients and caregivers. The designer is thus able to analyze those moments of transition and to twist them around, improve them so as to make them easier to manage for everyone.
For instance, let’s have a look at the one of the first innovation laboratories to have been set up in a hospital structure located in Strasbourg, France, within the University Hospital Centre. For the past ten years, the “Fabrique de l’Hospitalité” (Trans: Hospitality Factory) has been working on the implementation of internal projects to facilitate the daily life of patients, as well as their carers and carers.
Today, according to the french association of surgery, 46% of hospitalizations are made on an outpatient basis: the patient is discharged the same day as the operation. However, the objective set by the Minister of Solidarity and Health is to increase this figure to 66.2% by 2020. In order to facilitate the progress of patients and the organisation of carers in the face of this major change in hospital care, the Hospitality Factory developed the outpatient Passport in 2018. After a long period of research and testing with all the staff of the outpatient surgery department, a patient support booklet was published. The latter, thanks to illustrations and a simplified vocabulary, informs them in detail about each stage of the journey.
The designer is therefore the coordinator of the various stakeholders: he works to organize and optimize the paths of each one to facilitate their daily or occasional experience.
More broadly, a public institution, whether it is involved in politics or health, represents a rich and complex ecosystem. Indeed, in those places different typologies of individuals coexist: administrative staff, cooks, surface technicians, visitors, patients or various carers. Through co-design, the designer becomes the facilitator of this ecosystem. Thanks to its creative methodology, he brings these actors together, around co-construction, exchange and visualisation tools in order to propose and iterate together around different innovative scenarios. In a context of redesigning or improving patient care, the consideration of all these actors ensures a global and sustainable solution for all.
J. KNAPP, Sprint.
Design for all, and sensitive audiences
The social challenges in the 21st century are numerous. Today’s designers are drawing on these themes to devise solutions for a sustainable future. The role of the designer goes far beyond creating beauty and aesthetics: the ethics of this profession is also conveyed in the consideration of people in precarious situations. Thus, seniors, children, people who are ill or have disabilities, migrants or homeless are all actors in our society, yet are easily forgotten. Indeed, our environment is hardly adapted to their needs, if not against them. In Paris, for example, it is very common in public spaces to pass an homeless protection system by It prevents homeless from settling at the foot of buildings or on the subway stations benches This system will push them back to places where they are less visible and increasingly on the fringe.
The ageing population is also a crucial issue in the coming decades: according to INSEE, by 2050, one in three people will be aged 60 and over. We must therefore allow our elders to acquire more autonomy and have access to dignified and adapted care. It is therefore necessary to rethink the care of seniors in a period of life when we are more vulnerable to a loss of autonomy and mobility, loneliness or illness. Beyond medical care and access to care, housing and the city must adapt to this population. Usages and even more so the user must be at the centre of this reflection. Let’s take the example of the startup Happytal. They provide physical and digital janitorial services in public hospitals to facilitate access to recreational facilities for hospital patients. It is then possible for them to order by phone, internet or in person, a product or service they desire. The latter will then be delivered to their room. Happytal also allows family members to express their support from a distance. In addition, we can observe an overall improvement of the experience thanks to the digitalization of the patient path and the possibility of an e-approach ( pre-approval, request for a private room, exit lounges, real-time management of satisfaction, etc.).
Education, prevention and learning to combine digital technology and sustainable development
Health is synonymous with an optimal physical and mental state. We can add to this the general well-being, the stability of our environment and the sustainability of our way of life. It is therefore not only a question of the absence of pathology but also of raising everyone’s awareness about the risky factors present in their daily lives. In France, for instance, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) represent the leading professional disease and, therefore, a considerable cost for companies and, by extension, for society. Indeed, the sedentariness of workers and work on screens are the main causes since they lead to incorrect postures on a regular and prolonged basis. Here, the designer can also play a role in access to prevention. By prioritizing usage and users, the designer can optimize workstations and raise awareness of good practices. In response to this observation, the French health insurance system has developed a mobile application that acts as a genuine coach, encouraging people with MSDs to move, stretch and modify their postures. The application also offers an educational part which, thanks to quizzes, allows you to better understand and apprehend your pain. Designers analyzed the daily lives of users and proposed a fun, ergonomic and accessible interface to relieve their daily ills.
New generations of workers must rely on their health capital. Careers will inevitably lengthen and thus require an optimal state of health.
(links are French)
On a more general level, design aims to improve our daily lives and strengthen our well-being. Digital technology is present everywhere nowadays and often to the benefit of the efficiency and accessibility of the products and services that surround us. This convenience quickly becomes essential for each and every one of us, but today, we remain only children to the digital era. It has been present in our lives for such a short time at the level of humanity and we still have to teach and educate ourselves to live with it in a sustainable way. Because well-being and health cannot be achieved in a sustainable and healthy way at the expense of others and the planet. We must be aware of the impact of our production and mass consumption of the tools we consider essential to our daily lives. For instance in Congo today, Coltan is a rare and precious resource, extracted from the earth to end up in our phone batteries. Beyond the environmental impact due to the extraction of this rare earth (destruction of forests, fauna and flora), the human impact is catastrophic: illegal and dangerous child labour and ethnic conflicts.
It is urgent to become aware of the inequalities and human and environmental disasters that result from our digital consumption. It is necessary to refocus on real needs, to work for the poorest and to ensure the right to choose, dignity and inclusion of all in these new systems of production, information and consumption. It is not a question of banning digital technology but of learning to develop, regulate and integrate it for the common good.
And what about UD, what do we do for health?
Health, solidarity, the environment, education, sustainable development are themes that are close to the heart of Use Design’s employees. The willingness to engage in projects that reflect these convictions is growing and the agency has already proven its worth in these areas. For instance, one project focused on the innovation of pharmacy services was carried out to support these businesses towards a digital transition and the implementation of differentiating paths was carried out. Another was to facilitate the journey of surgical staff through an in-depth study of their journey and a reshaping of their experience as users.
Recently, Use Design has also been working with startup companies in the health and sustainable development sectors to advise them on the implementation or improvement of their innovative products or services project.
We are convinced that designers have an important role to play in building the world of tomorrow. By imagining, from the very beginning of projects, methods and solutions that are inclusive and sustainable, to the benefit of human health and the well-being of our planet.