How good design can make healthcare more human

Waiting rooms designed with the patient in mind.
A design for a more comforting environment for patients after procedures. (IDEO)

The tech industry has been a frontrunner when it comes to putting user experience at the core of design. But in other areas of our lives, thinking about design at all, let alone design for the user, often seems tacked on. Something applied like a "freshen up" coat of paint-- concealing the problems underneath, but not exactly improving anything. And that's what we're going to talk about for the next part of our show.

Imagine for a moment, the last time you sat in a waiting room for a medical appointment. Look around at the decor, the placement of the chairs, the mood of the people waiting and the staff that work there. How does it all make you feel? And does that feeling, that experience, have an impact on the kind of care you'll receive?

Design for a new waiting room experience that offers quiet nesting spaces for patient privacy. (IDEO)
This is the thinking behind a massive redesign of more than 600 Planned Parenthood health centres across the United States.
With a user experience approach, interaction designer Grace Hwang helped Planned Parenthood redesign waiting and recovery rooms from the patient's perspective. Grace and her team reimagined everything from the organization of the seats, to how patients fill out forms, but they also built a lot of the changes around staff, and on the flow of information. Could these approaches be applied to the rest of healthcare?
Design for a waiting area that is social and kid-friendly, apart from an area for those who want a private and quiet nesting space to wait. (IDEO)


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.