By Sven Larsen (@svenplarsen)
One of the most compelling sessions of this week’s Health and Wellness program at Social Media Week was Michael Graves’ fascinating (and at times very moving) talk on redesigning everything from hospital rooms to wheelchairs. At the core of Graves’ presentation was the need to embrace the patient perspective and bring empathy in to the design process. Sound advice for both digital and analog designers.
A world renowned architect and designer (there a fair chance you have on of his Target products in your kitchen) GRaves was paralyzed about a decade ago. Since then, he’s devoted a large part of his practice to redesigning health devices and technology to better serve the needs of their users. As Graves points out, very few designers ever think that they may end up in a wheelchair or suffering from a debilitating condition but if they embrace this perspective they can create vastly more effective products.
Graves used the example of his own home, where he replaced a curb designed to hold back water from a shower stall with a simple drain, immediately rendering the stall accessible for himself and other non-ambulatory users. He tried to share this knowledge with one of his employees who was designing a hotel for a client but only succeeded in getting partial buy in from the designer. Clearly, empathy is something not easily taught.
The good nes is that Graves has partnered with Stryker Medical to produce an array of improved products that touch upon every aspect of the patient experience. We’ve highlighted some of them below but the key takeaway from Graves’ presentation is an essential truth for anyone in healthcare: patients are human beings first. And when we bring that human aspect in to our work, everyone (designer, client and end consumer) benefits.
You can view Graves’ entire presentation here