'Designers need to see the bigger picture'

| Michaela Nesvarova

'I felt awful after my first assignment as a student of Industrial Design. I thought I was learning only how to make people buy what they don´t need. That is not true, though. You can use design to help others, and so I decided to design for healthcare,' says Ingeborg Griffioen, who held a lecture today at the DesignLab.

Photo by: Rikkert Harink

Ingeborg Griffioen is the founder and director of Panton, a design studio for healthcare. She is conducting a research on shared decision-making in healthcare and she is visiting technical universities to build a platform of people dedicated to this subject.

'As a patient with serious medical problem you always want to know your options, their consequences and associated risks. However, making a decision concerning the treatment is more difficult for people than doctors realize,' thinks Griffioen. 'You are deciding about treatment that could possibly result in death and you are under a lot of stress. There is often a knowledge gap between the doctor and the patient and doctors might not think about what is the best option for the specific person. Sometimes medical specialists don´t consider that doing nothing is also an option.'

Shared decision-making

'So I asked myself: how can we make this process easier as designers?' continues Griffioen. Focusing on this topic, Griffioen dove into a field called shared decision-making, which is a new way of communicating between doctors and patients. Shared decision-making is a process in which a doctor thoroughly informs the patient about all available options and risks and allows the patient to share their own personal preferences. Based on that, pros and cons are discussed and a treatment is chosen based on a mutual agreement.

How can design help with this process? 'So far only details have been researched, such as graphics, the use of a computer or the position of the doctor´s table. I plan to analyze all involved elements and design a shared decision-making service,' describes Griffioen. 'If you are coming for a doctor´s appointment and you can´t park in the hospital garage because it´s full, you will be rushing and you will be stressed during the consultation. As designers we should understand this bigger picture, not just individual steps.'