Can design save healthcare?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Norsk Form, Oslo, Norway

Should design help make cutbacks that target people’s behaviour, or should it be more concerned with advances in science, technology and services that can liberate us from health problems altogether?

Many countries are cutting back on expensive healthcare provision. In the UK all political parties want to cut bureaucracy and target the public’s health in order to reduce demand. The recession has put preventative healthcare high on the agenda, targeting people’s ‘unhealthy’ behaviour as an unnecessary burden on limited resources. In response many designers believe they can help reform the National Health Service. On one hand they want to redesign services around patient needs, emphasising satisfaction and service. On the other hand, they believe design can change our behaviour bringing about healthier outcomes, getting us to eat, drink or smoke less. Design ideas include the re-design of food labelling, buildings that keep us fit, or using behavioural psychology techniques to influence how we make choices. 

But should design help make cutbacks that target people’s behaviour, or should it be more concerned with advances in science, technology and services that can liberate us from health problems altogether? This debate will question why governments use design, and whether all of this will end up providing us better healthcare provision?

Speakers were:

Martin Bontoft: design strategist and researcher on user needs in design. Has previously worked for, ideo (Head of Human Factors), Design Council, National Health Service (NHS) and has long experience of service design. 

Alastair Donald: Urban planner, researcher and writer with experience in public and private sectors, including as an advisor to Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) in the development of master plans. 

Lavrans Løvlie: pioneer in service design since the start of live|work 2001 and director of the Nordic office in Oslo. Lavrans has developed solutions for the Orange, ONE North East and Sony Ericsson is a driving force to make use of service design in the public service development. 

John-Arne Røttingen: Head of Knowledge Center, Norwegian Knowledge Centre for Health Services, a government health agency, measuring the quality of health services and helps to develop and improve the quality of health care.