A Multidisciplinary Design Approach To Solving The Healthcare Challenge
I think there are plenty of us out there who learn by doing. And it seems to me that design of all fields is one that requires getting your hands dirty.
But learning sometimes requires having a few partners in crime, too. After all, none of us work in silos, and bringing a hands-on, multidisciplinary approach to just about any project isn’t just beneficial to the project but to the level of knowledge gained by those participating in it.
One new program at the U-M Stamps School of Art & Design in Ann Arbor, Mich., presents students with an opportunity to do just that. Its Master of Design in Integrative Design takes a collaborative approach to addressing what the school’s determined to be a “complex problem related to critical social issues.” Once a problem is identified, teams of graduate students and professionals will get to work on solving it by developing new ideas and, in particular, design solutions.
And what better problem to tackle in the program’s launch than the U.S. healthcare system?
That’s the task that’s been presented to the fall 2015 program teams. “Wicked problems in healthcare are some of the most critical issues that we face. In healthcare, there are no quick fixes and no simple solutions. Aging populations, chronic diseases, and lack of access to comprehensive services are just some of the urgent problems that need to be addressed,” the program description states.
Design students from all specialties will work alongside healthcare professionals, industry partners, and other university experts during the course of the two-year project to address a number of questions, such as how to better deliver a continuum of care among providers from physicians to dieticians; how to better integrate caregivers, family, and friends in the care network; and how to improve healthcare by design to create a more human-centered approach.
These are big questions, and questions I’m sure a lot of you out there have already attempted to answer among your own project teams. Likewise, many of you are no longer strangers to this type of collaborative effort.
I can’t tell you how many times over the past year I’ve spoken with designers who mention a growing trend toward multidisciplinary approaches to their healthcare projects. We’re seeing healthcare designers turn to their colleagues in urban design to inspire new campus layouts, or in retail design to develop easily accessible care sites, or in corporate design to integrate efficient, modular space systems for future adaptability.
U-M Stamps is right: Healthcare in the 21st century is most certainly a wicked problem. And designers are in a unique position to bring new solutions to the table. And here’s an incoming class that’s going to be raring to go.