24 February 2006

Open Health, a UK Design Council report on creating new healthcare systems

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The UK Design Council published its first RED report: ‘Open Health’, following up on the paper “Health: Co-creating Services” (which was discussed here).

Chronic disease and conditions related to an unhealthy lifestyle have reached epidemic proportions and are rising still. This presents a momentous challenge for the current healthcare system.

Looking at the problem from a design perspective shows that there are many gaps in the way that current approaches relate to people’s daily lives and motivations. Designing from the individual’s point of view could provide the key to solutions that work.

Working with partners in Bolton and Kent over the six months from December 2004, the Design Council explored ways to create new healthcare systems. The design team prototyped innovative services for self-managing chronic conditions and maintaining healthier lifestyles.

These point towards a radical new model of healthcare organisation: Open Health.

Summary pageMovie (8.8 mb, 9 minutes) – Open Health report (pdf, 600 kb, 64 pages)

Kent: Activmobs (download design notes, pdf, 4.9 mb, 41 pages)
With Kent County Council the Design Council worked with some of the most inactive people, in one of the most deprived wards. They prototyped “activmobs” – a platform that supports people to get active and stay active in a way that fits with their lifestyle, interests and abilities.

Bolton: The Diabetes Agenda (download design notes, pdf, 3.6 mb, 41 pages)
In Bolton, the Design Council worked with the local NHS to improve their nationally acclaimed diabetes service. Here they developed “Agenda cards” – a simple set of cards that reframe the interaction between patients and professionals. They also prototyped a Me2 coach service – a new and powerful support role, like a life coach but for people with diabetes. These ideas represent a shift in thinking in the way designers approach the management of chronic conditions and demonstrate how design can be used to put patient centred thinking into practice.

Co-design – the name of the design process used – works because people are the experts in their own lives. Co-design addresses health problems from the point of view of the individual, not the system. The Design Council works with people in real world contexts to develop practical solutions to their everyday health problems.

Co-created systems are intended to improve over time and with increased
participation from users and professionals. The Design Council believes they have the potential to provide higher quality and more durable health solutions and answer many of the problems faced by the NHS today.

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