Designing technology for healthcare is tricky work, because although creativity plays an important role, in medical settings the most important mantra is always “first, do no harm.” Too often, this mindset results in technology that is a bit too sterile. Silicon Valley investment firm KPCB recently hosted an event called “Better Health Through Design: More Usable, Understandable, and Profitable. At the event, a panel of designers and healthcare entrepreneurs discussed how bringing principals from designing consumer goods can (and should) also be considered when designing tech for medical applications.
Design—in the aesthetic meaning of the word—is often overlooked in healthcare. John Maeda, a technology and design expert who co-hosted the event explained, “As someone who studied traditional electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, I don’t find it surprising at all – because a traditional technical education, or business education for that matter, doesn’t go deep into the history of art and design.”
Maeda suggests that technology for healthcare could be improved by focusing on several key goals that are commonly understood in commercial design: understandability, usability, profitability, and performance. By embracing these principals, medical technology can be more effective. Patients would be more engaged with an app for managing a chronic illness, for example, if it resembled popular gaming apps, such as candy crush. Listen to the Podcast (above) to hear the panel discuss more ways that healthcare technology could take cues from commercial design.