March 3, 2010

Designing for Better Health

This is a banner week for people who think good design contributes to better health.

On Monday, DiabetesMine and the California HealthCare Foundation launched the 2010 DiabetesMine Design Challenge. Last year the contest garnered more than 150 entries and awarded a grand prize, a “most creative” prize, and a kids’ category prize. I can’t wait to see what people come up with this year — please help spread the word.

Today, Project HealthDesign announced the five winners of their two-year grant and mentorship program aimed at encouraging the use of observations of daily living (ODLs) into clinical practice.

Patty Brennan, Project HealthDesign’s national program director, wrote:

Our premise is that ODLs can help unlock information that is typically not part of the clinical experience – but that providers and patients absolutely need to be talking about. To help us test this with real people and real providers, we have selected five outstanding grantee teams for an intensive two-year demonstration projects to test whether and how information – such as the stress levels of caregivers of premature infants and medication or cooking routines of seniors at risk of cognitive decline – can be collected, interpreted and acted upon by patients and clinicians in real-world clinical settings.

I am honored to be on Project HealthDesign’s national advisory committee, although I should hasten to say that because of the Pew Research Center’s strict policies I did not vote for or against projects. I did, however, read proposals and participate in the debates about the merits of each one. The process was a highlight of 2009 for me. There is no shortage of excellent ideas, each of which strives to create a more participatory future for health care.

DiabetesMine and Project HealthDesign are just two examples of how design is taking center stage in health care initiatives.  What else are you seeing?  What else needs to be done?  How else can the field rise to the challenge that Jamie Heywood articulated at TEDMED:

“Wouldn’t it be great if the technology we used to take care of ourselves was as good as the tech we use to make money?”

Join the discussion on e-patients.net.