Shaping Social Policy: Designers and Health

Encouraged by a new breed of policy makers, designers believe they are better able than politicians and clinicians to nudge people into making healthier choices, by transforming the physical environment, improving food labelling, creating incentives to lose weight or give up smoking, and even re-thinking how a receptionist answers the phone. It is hoped that of all of this and more will influence how people behave – with regard to their own health and the services they consume. But will services re-designed around a patient’s experience be enough to transform healthcare, and is all of this genuinely about empowering patients to make the right choices, or really about the nanny state making choices for us? Everyone agrees healthcare needs to be improved, but can attempts to alter patients’ and staff’s behaviour succeed? And will focusing on patient satisfaction be enough to transform the NHS and wider healthcare provision? Or does this only obscure the economic, political and infrastructure problems that underlie the failings of the health service? At a time when healthcare faces drastic cutbacks, some argue it makes economic sense to discourage people from choosing unhealthy lives and becoming a drain on resources. But is it the place of designers to implement such a contentious agenda? Will making patients accept the ‘terms and conditions’ of a health care system before being allowed to access its services be good for anyone? Speakers were: Alastair Donald urban designer; researcher; co-editor The Lure of the city: from slums to suburbs

Maja Kecman senior associate, patient safety group, Helen Hamlyn Centre, Royal College of Art; industrial design engineer and consultant

Dr Lynne Maher interim director, innovation, NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement; author, Making a Bigger Difference NHS guide

Jason Mesut experience director, The Team; design specialist, healthcare user experience, NHS and private sector

Professor Joe Kerr head of Department of Critical & Historical Studies. RCA; author, London from Punk to Blair; bus driver

Chair: Martyn Perks director, Thinking Apart; co-author Big Potatoes: the London manifesto for innovation

Produced by: Martyn Perks director, Thinking Apart; co-author Big Potatoes: the London manifesto for innovation

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