Bringing Health Into Hospitals From The Outside

No one wants to be in a hospital, right? They’re serious places where serious activity occurs. But there have been great strides in creating environments that aid the patient experience. Go into many new or newly remodeled hospitals and you’ll see lighting, architecture, furnishings and art that may remind you of a hotel. And this isn’t just for cosmetic purposes; positive patient experiences have documented positive impact on patient outcomes.

But when it comes to mealtime, you’ll probably be reminded that you’re not staying at some swanky hotel. Or maybe not. (more…)

Healthcare Access For the Price of a Couple of Lattes

There are nearly a dozen countries in the world where one in four kids don’t make it to age five as a result of the absence of healthcare access. Resources that most of us take for granted – like clean water and air, proximity to doctors and simple technology – could contribute immensely to places like Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia; places where healthcare services are practically nonexistent. Indeed, these places have a paucity of any infrastructure, let alone health care infrastructure, and as such this seems like an intractable problem. And yet, a San Francisco-based company called Medic Mobile is looking to tackle this challenge head-on and in a very creative way.

Medic Mobile (which was founded by Josh Nesbit in his dorm room at Stanford) has a very succinct mission statement: improve healthcare in under-served communities using mobile technology. And inexpensive mobile technology at that! Medic Mobile develops simple software that provides community health workers with access to health records, mapping of health services and data collection, all on their mobile devices. (more…)

A $25,000 Challenge to Keep it Simple

When you look at a retailer like Target and its unique positioning as an “upscale” discounter, you’ll notice a few things. One is that it not only has to be excellent at the science of retailing but it must also push the art of being a merchant. Being an artful merchant is about design, curation and expert editing of offerings. And these days you can add social innovation to Target’s fashion traditions.

Target’s latest social innovation leans into the world of wellness and disease prevention, in addition to recovery and maintenance of health conditions, and pushes its desire to serve its guests’ needs well beyond the pharmacy counter.  But that’s not even the beginning of the innovation because this time the initiative starts outside of Target’s walls with the ideas coming from the most creative minds in our neighborhoods.  (more…)

Healthcare as a Matter of Personal Practice

Those of you who have read this blog for a while have heard me wax on about our healthcare system, which is actually a sickcare system. If you look at the bulk of our healthcare spending, you can attribute much of it to two broad arenas: 1) Get sick and someone will fix you and 2) death is optional (OK, at this writing it isn’t exactly “optional,” but death is treated as a disease in our society and billions are spent delaying departure at any cost).

Listen, if you are sick, there’s no better place to be on Earth. But if you want to keep well … well that’s a different story. I’ve highlighted all types of elements of what it means to create a health habitat, or healthier lifestyles more easily approached because of great design. From food offerings to redesigning offices that promote small movements throughout the day, we’re seeing a bevy of creative approaches aimed at changing not just how we think about healthcare, but how we actually live it.  (more…)

I · CONS ≥ LET · TERS [Sometimes]

As time goes on I’m noticing a great increase in the design quality of our tools. Not the ergonomics of them, but the way in which tools are being used to represent ideas beyond things like measurement and numbers.

Think about it this way: a number is a symbol to express a finite idea.  Even the number zero,“0”, is an expression of the absence of a thing (“nothing” is “something” as an idea).  In many, if not most languages, letters are symbols that are tools to express the sounds that when put together express an idea, like “dog” or “god,” which simply by rearranging those very same symbols state very different ideas.  Today, there is significant growth in iconography, which is the use of a single symbol to express a word or in many cases, a bunch of words.  (more…)

TO DUCK AND COVER FOR DISEASE, NOT WEATHER

A number of years back, when the Weather Channel captured the crises/entertainment value of dangerous storms, I joked to a friend that it wouldn’t be long until someone launched the Sick Channel, where the same kind of entertainment values would be applied to contagions and epidemics.  Well it didn’t take long at all because now you can tap into a disease tracking system called Sickweather that monitors social networks for mentions of 24 different symptoms of illnesses, including “whooping cough,” “hand foot and mouth,” and “eczema.” And a system like this is to be expected, considering many peoples’ job titles include interpreting Big Data. (more…)

LIFE VS. LIVING – WHICH IS THE BEST PATH TO DEATH?

A number of years ago, my dad and I joined a few friends up in Alaska for salmon fishing. Salmon are amazing creatures. Born in river streams, they swim out to the ocean for several years and then come back to the very same river to spawn a new generation. They enter the river shiny and beautiful, lay or inseminate eggs, and then they begin to die. They become disfigured, their colors change and they literally rot to the bone.  One of my new-to-salmon-fishing friends looked at this with horror and asked our guide what was wrong with the fish.  Our guide chuckled and said, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with them.  They have lived their lives and now having produced another generation and they are dying. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with them.” (more…)

NAKED CIVICS TERMINOLOGY

When it comes to new concepts like civic design, where we align interests for common good outcomes rather than meet adversarially in capitols alone, it’s helpful to use and understand a certain set of terminology. New ways of thinking require new ways of describing those thoughts, right? (more…)