“With design, everything is intentional.” — Vanessa Mason
The hosts of Designing for Inclusion in Health Innovation put its theme to the test last week. The event was scheduled to take place at the SXSW conference in Austin, TX now canceled in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Without missing a beat, the team quickly pivoted to an online format open to anyone who wished to register.
Here’s how the team described the event:
Innovation is less about new, shiny things and more about deep problem-solving and reframing. To address public health issues or create patient-centered innovations, we must understand the needs and priorities of different communities and ensure that innovations truly improve health outcomes and reflect the people for whom they serve.
Design-thinking can engage with diverse patients and consumers, but in order for a human-centered design to gain traction and remain an organizational priority, there must be buy-in from all levels and stakeholders. This session explores a multi-faceted approach to advancing inclusivity and equity in healthcare to improve outcomes and commercial success, to build an inclusive workforce and empower patients to be a more meaningful part of the design process.
The panel had a stellar line-up:
- Moderator — Vanessa Mason Research Director, Institute for the Future
- Panelist — Jen Horonjeff Founder & CEO, Savvy Cooperative
- Panelist — Miya Osaki Partner & Co-Founder, Diagram
- Panelist — Andre Blackman Founder & CEO, Onboard Health
The event had a great turn-out and lively discussion between panelists and in the chat.
When it comes to designing for inclusion in health, the panelists honed in on four imperatives for innovation: Leadership, Community, Systems Thinking, and Continual Learning.
“It’s important to be in a position to ask the right questions.” — Andre Blackman
Remember, innovation is all about deep problem solving and reframing. Leadership that supports innovation and sustainability strives to create a culture and a workforce that reflects society. To get there, leaders need to find their blind spots. But it will be near impossible to do so without asking for help.
Building partnerships and collaborations with the groups you’re aiming to serve is critical to bring these gaps to light. There is enough competition to fill in the gaps, so if you’re not getting help to find your blind spots, you will be left behind.
“Designing with people rather than for people.” — Miya Osaki
That brings us to community. Our work in the health space requires that the communities we serve be an integral part of creating and defining the future. This means meeting people where they are — and that’s as important to building an inclusive workforce as it is to including your communities in systems, product, and testing design.
“Only offering in-person opportunities can exclude a lot of people.” — Jen Horonjeff
In the near-term, increasing accessibility and literacy are the critical next steps. Moving more of our work to virtual spaces. Being flexible and fluid with schedules. Working to increase access to services that meet basic needs, like childcare, healthcare, etc.
“When people think ‘healthcare,’ they often think of what happens in the clinic, but our lives are a lot more complex.” — Miya Osaki
The idea was posed, do we really need more “things” right now to advance health? There are already many products and services to address different slices of our lives. The future of health will need to take an approach to connecting what’s already there into a greater system approach.
We need to start to design in the interstitial spaces of the products that already exist and work more on connecting these products and promoting greater access.
It was not lost on the group that the COVID-19 experience is bringing the masses to a place that many people experience day-to-day. Inclusion for health innovation requires that we constantly learn and we can’t wait for a crisis to force it on us. That’s where we come back to collaboration and meeting people where they are.
Each of the panelists works in some way to bring community and health innovators together — whether for workforce development, research, or design. They all stressed that when putting people at the center, we more quickly and inclusively move toward the world we imagine.