Solutions for large, intractable problems require systems-level thinking, multidisciplinary teams, and co-creation. The winners of the Health x Design Innovation Challenge demonstrated these core design guidelines and proposed solutions that are broad yet fine-tuned, and imaginative and ambitious yet grounded in practical reality. These solutions will help lead the way forward as we redesign systems that shape our lives in order to build better health by default.See Full Project Details
It’s all about the system
Our first and most important step is to understand the system in which we‘re working. Mapping and understanding the system is key to developing appropriate solutions, instead of just making the problem worse. It’s critical to learn about a system’s many stakeholders, how they interact, and what influences them. Systems thinking means understanding the interrelations that create complex problems and rethinking assumptions about how change happens.
Multidisciplinary for the win
Groupthink is a dangerous thing. Assembling a team with complementary skills will lead to much deeper understanding of a challenge and the ability to create more innovative solutions. For example, a team with an engineer, business person, and designer will benefit from different and valuable perspectives and skillsets.
It takes more than a smartphone app to redesign an environment and achieve system-level change. An app may be part of a solution, but it shouldn’t BE the solution. Apps have limited ability to produce change, and are only accessible to smartphone users.
Leverage technology appropriately
Technology is key, but it goes so much further than buzzwords like AI or machine learning. We need to understand what the technology can do, and question whether an analog solution would work just as well. Using technology for technology’s sake just adds unnecessary cost and complexity
Remember the magic of narrative
Using storytelling to communicate ideas makes them easier to understand and remember. Stories allow for more creativity and can produce more emotional responses and support from potential champions.
Equity is a key design principle
When designing a solution, accessibility should be a top priority. Evaluate designs through the lenses of income, mobility, age, and more.
Design for us, not them
Trying to solve other people’s problems can, at times, be misguided. While empathy is necessary for good design, it is not sufficient. It’s important to ask, is this a real problem that needs a solution? Or do we simply lack understanding of “them”?
View the top prize winner and honorable mentions below.
Prize Winner 1
Address a target behavior at the systems level
Culdesac is a community-based urban midrise apartment living concept. Culdesac uses people-centered design and technology to promote a living experience that facilitates quality social connection and combats loneliness, contributing to overall health and wellbeing.See Project
Prize Winner 2
Reimagine a system or space
Smooth Commuting is a plan to redesign the Boston commuter rail system in order to mitigate the negative health effects of long, unpleasant commutes.See Project
Leveraging the health system to address malnutrition
Innovating for Impact:
Better Food for Seniors
Better Food for Seniors is an integrated medical, social, and public health solution providing nutrient-rich foods for malnourished seniors.
Promoting sonic health
Sonic Health, developed by MorrowSound, proposes the use of environmental sound design in order to benefit people biologically and psychologically by improving the native audio ecology of shared spaces.