[Book] Health design thinking

Health Design Thinking: Creating Products and Services for Better Health
By Bon Ku and Ellen Lupton
MIT Press (copublished with Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum)
March 2020, 228 pages

Applying the principles of human-centered design to real-world health care challenges, from drug packaging to early detection of breast cancer.

This book makes a case for applying the principles of design thinking to real-world health care challenges. As health care systems around the globe struggle to expand access, improve outcomes, and control costs, Health Design Thinking offers a human-centered approach for designing health care products and services, with examples and case studies that range from drug packaging and exam rooms to internet-connected devices for early detection of breast cancer. Written by leaders in the field—Bon Ku, a physician and founder of the innovative Health Design Lab at Sidney Kimmel Medical College, and Ellen Lupton, an award-winning graphic designer and curator at Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum—the book outlines the fundamentals of design thinking and highlights important products, prototypes, and research in health design.

Health design thinking uses play and experimentation rather than a rigid methodology. It draws on interviews, observations, diagrams, storytelling, physical models, and role playing; design teams focus not on technology but on problems faced by patients and clinicians. The book’s diverse case studies show health design thinking in action. These include the development of PillPack, which frames prescription drug delivery in terms of user experience design; a credit card–size device that allows patients to generate their own electrocardiograms; and improved emergency room signage. Drawings, photographs, storyboards, and other visualizations accompany the case studies.

Bon Ku, MD, a practicing emergency physician, is Assistant Dean for Health and Design at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, where he is also Director of the Health Design Lab.

Ellen Lupton is Senior Curator of Contemporary Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York. She is the author of many books, including Beautiful UsersDesign is Storytelling, and The Senses: Design Beyond Design.