How did begin? 

With a Youtube video of course!

Jun 25, 2014 · 4 min read

A post by Doctor as Designer, Joyce Lee, MD, MPH, co-conspirator of Follow her on Twitter: @joyclee is a community of individuals (patients, doctors, makers, artists, designers, researchers, professors, students, advocates) passionate about health, technology, and participatory design.

As a collective, we have been actively involved in a broad range of activities to promote patient-centered design, the use of emerging technologies like mobile technology and social media, and the notion that we as a community (both local and virtual) should be part of the creation and promotion of health.

But how did this all start?

With a YouTube video. (Naysayer: “Seriously? A YouTube video?”)

Yup. I made a Youtube video with my son B back in the fall of 2012. I told the story of how it came about at the 2013 Cusp Design Conference (you can check out the slides here!)

I had no intentions of becoming a designer, but fell into it by necessity. I had just moved the family cross-country for a sabbatical year, and was facing the dilemma of having two kids with severe food allergies enrolled in a school/daycare system that was not well-equipped for managing their medications and health condition. I was a caregiver with a health problem that needed to be solved.

Together as a team, B and I transformed the allergy action plan that looked like this:

This is otherwise known as #bad #design but sadly is standard for the average healthcare institution

Into this prototype of effective participatory design!

For more details check out my original post:

How do I know it was effective?

We use it!

Successful design is defined by the user. We haven’t scaled this, made money off this, or distributed this as a consumer product. But it’s the tool we use every time we start a new school, meet a new teacher, or begin a new summer camp.

It has had positive effects on B’s confidence with managing his own condition and we are continually ideating more allergy prototypes (to be presented at the Make Health Fest at the University of Michigan this August! Stay tuned…)

And I am super proud of him as it went viral in it’s own modest way. (B’s video now has over 1000 hits, which in the eyes of a lazy tiger mom is just shy of Psy’s 2 billion for the Gangnam style!), but that’s external validation that’s not necessary for defining success.

The most amazing thing is that he now thinks of himself now as a design thinker (albeit with his own personal definition of design thinker — see below)!

What did we learn from this experience?

1. You don’t have to be trained as a “designer” to design

Design thinking is just a form of problem solving. That’s what patients and caregivers do everyday to manage their conditions. We are the experts who understand what the real problems are; therefore we should play a key role in creating the solutions that will keep us and our loved ones healthy.

2. Designing something yourself can be cheap and easy

You don’t need $5000 or a production crew to make a video. We used paper, pencil, and then an app called JotNot Pro ($2.99) on the iPhone to scan the pictures. I inserted the pictures into a powerpoint, added some audioclips and then used Camtasia, a screencasting software to transform it from a powerpoint slideshow to a YouTube video. Who needs a medical education when you have google and cheap tools?

I write about our experience because this is just one many examples of participatory design that we want to support with our movement.

Please share with us some of your great examples/prototypes/stories of participatory design as this is a movement that we need to create as a community!

Please share your story via Email, Twitter, or Facebook!


Twitter: @healthbyus


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