Design skills in healthcare

Does the design of medical products impact on the safety of patients and health practitioners? The answer in many cases will be, yes. For patients it affects everyday medical items like respiratory equipment. But the real issues are for health practitioners. That’s why we need design skills in healthcare.

Authors of a recent paper discuss some of the issues. They note that when design unwittingly excludes whole groups of users it becomes bad design. Medical products and services designed to best fit a Caucasian male body type means a poor fit for others. 

The authors provide an excellent example of where a design is potentially dangerous. “In one example, the only green button on a defibrillator switched the device off, whereas the only red button was for shocking. In simulated A wall mounted defibrillator in bright orange.emergency situations, it was no surprise that some participants pushed the green button and inadvertently switched the device off when intending to shock.” 

Co-design is considered the appropriate approach in healthcare services, products and building design. It enables stakeholders in healthcare sciences and delivery to provide input at the early stages of design. Although co-design is accepted as a good idea, design skills are yet to be emphasised and captured in co-design processes. 

The title of the paper is, Design as a quality improvement strategy: The case for design expertise

From the abstract

Bad design in safety-critical environments like healthcare can lead to users being frustrated, excluded or injured. In contrast, good design makes it easier to use a service correctly. Design impacts on both the safety and efficiency of healthcare delivery, as well as the experience of patients and staff.

Co-design as an improvement strategy has gained traction in the healthcare quality improvement literature. However, the role of design expertise and professional design is much less explored. Good design does not happen by accident: it takes specific design expertise. 

We define design, show why poor design can be disastrous and illustrate the benefits of good design. We argue for the recognition of distinctive design expertise and describe some of its characteristics. Finally, we discuss how design could be better promoted in healthcare improvement.

Residential spaces for healthcare

An Introduction to Inclusive Healthcare Design By Kiwana T. McClungAn Introduction to Inclusive Healthcare Design is a book with more articles on healthcare design. It includes the built environment, allied health, social care, and urban studies. 

One chapter, The Design of Residential Spaces for Healthcare, looks at homes and residential spaces for delivering healthcare. 


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