A Chat with Our Professor of Health Design

Peter Jones Wu Wei

Appearing on the DiabetesMine community site, I’ve been asked to participate as a juror on their diabetes innovation contest. Here’s why:

Peter Jones may have a common name, but he’s a rare animal. He’s one of the few academic design experts focusing specifically on the user experience in healthcare. And we are delighted to welcome him this year as one of our expert judges for the 2010 DiabetesMine Design Challenge!

FYI, Peter has a PhD in Design and Innovation Management, and publishes research in organizational behavior, strategic innovation, and human information interaction as a visiting scholar at the Laboratory for Collaborative Diagnostics at The University of Toronto. He also runs his own consultancy, Redesign Research, and is currently writing a book.

Today, his perspectives on how improved design can help change healthcare for the better:

DBMine) Peter, you run an online community called Design for Care and are writing a book about “enhancing the human experience of health” through design. Why is all this necessary? What would you say has been missing that we’re looking for?

PJ) Design for Care is a response to the confusing array of design approaches being used in healthcare, ranging from basic user experience from web design to human factors engineering for critical medical devices.  Healthcare is such a massively distributed enterprise, and much of the real innovation work is invisible.

For example, Clayton Christensen’s book, the Innovator’s Prescription, is all about policy and systemic change.  Most of the big healthcare design conferences are architectural, and promote environmental and interior design approaches. The Health 2.0 movement is pushed by web services used by consumers. The current move to eHealth Records systems will lock institutions into massive IT infrastructures for the next decade or more. Systems and services are all talking about healthcare, but are missing the point of care.

The human experience of health is something every system or design intervention should care about. It’s a value that replaces “user centered,” for me anyway, since I cannot find any “users” when I explore healthcare situations. I find people — professionals and people seeking their help — making sense of changes in their personal health experience.

Find the rest of the interview at DiabetesMine: