Now available: Managing Priorities by Harry Max

Frequently Asked Questions

These common questions about design and healthcare and their short answers are taken from Peter Jones’s book Design for Care: Innovating Healthcare Experience. You can find longer answers to each in your copy of the book, either printed or digital version.

  1. Who are the stakeholders for this book?
    The book is written to ultimately help health seekers—the patients and people who seek information, health services, and care from today’s fragmented healthcare systems. We all rely on healthcare at some point, for ourselves and those we care for; therefore, everyone can be a stakeholder.”We” are the user experience and service designers in healthcare, care providers improving healthcare service, and product and project managers in health industries. We are the ones who will ultimately employ design in healthcare transformation. Other stakeholders include design and medical educators, management of hospitals and companies providing healthcare applications, and policy makers.
  2. How do you resolve the different terminology used in different design disciplines?
    Throughout the book, references are made to concepts and terms that have distinct meanings in their own fields. Because the book presents a convergence of design methods and human research across the sectors of healthcare, a collision of perspectives is to be expected. The design disciplines have variations in design practice, research methods, and artifacts that cannot be resolved in one book. Research and medicine are divided by discipline, method, and legacy.The intention of this book is to raise crucial issues of which designers should be aware. The common bond among all these disciplines is the compelling requirement to solve complex problems in effective and sustainable ways.
    See page 12.
  3. What is health seeking?
    The health seeker is any person aware of his or her motivation to improve his or her health, whether sick or not. Health seeking is the natural pursuit of one’s appropriate balance of well-being, the continuous moving toward what we call “normal” health. For some, normal is just not feeling any symptoms; for others, it may be achieving the physical performance of an Olympian.
    See page 15.
  4. What is Health 2.0 and Medicine 2.0, and is there a difference?
    These designations are applied to coherent trends in Internet-enabled IT in healthcare and medical innovation. The implication of the release number “2.0” signals consensus among IT vendors and innovators that a technology regime shift is being organized, similar to Web 2.0. Health 2.0 ranges from the conceptual shift in the management of patient care using online technology, to healthcare IT start-ups and Web services for health management.Medicine 2.0 was inspired by the shift in IT and data resources from academic medicine and biomedical sciences.
    See page 100.
  5. How are design and medicine alike?
    These two fields are similar in many ways. Both are performed as an expert-informed skilled practice that is learned by doing. And both are informed by observation and feedback, by evidence of their beneficial effects. Both disciplines are motivated by a deep desire to help people manage and improve their lives, individually and culturally. Modern medicine is guided by scientific inquiry much more than design, but then designers and engineers in healthcare often have scientific backgrounds. In medicine, evidence of outcome is gathered by measures of health and mortality, controlled experiments, and validated in peer-reviewed research. For clinical practice and organizational change, however, validation is often based on the social proof of adoption in practice. Design interventions in healthcare are often assessed by the analysis of empirical evidence, but in few cases would experimental validation be appropriate for service or interaction design. Different evaluation methods are valid in their contexts, a proposition that may not yet be acceptable across healthcare fields.
    See Chapter 6.
  6. Why do you say “There is no user in healthcare”?
    The designation of “user” privileges the use of a particular system and its functions, which promotes a language of efficiency based on “user tasks.” It biases design toward optimizing for a specific set of use cases based on a strong representation of a primary user of IT. Healthcare is a huge social system with many participants and roles dedicated toward the recovery of individual and social health. Few of these roles actually require IT for their performance. A user-centered perspective risks isolating a single aspect of use and interaction, when nearly everything involves more than one of the primary participants: consumers, patients, and clinicians. If we take an empathic view, it becomes clear that users and even patients are names of impersonal convenience. The term health seeker is proposed as an unbiased way of understanding the person seeking care as a motivated actor making sense of a complicated system to achieve health goals.
    See page 13.

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