Among all of our differences we share one thing in common — we are all celebrating existence through this thing we call life. Life is the most complex system in the universe and our understanding of it is still quite small. We spend so much time checking our email, replying to messages, and keeping up with the pulse of the world through social media, it is not a surprise to anyone that at our core we are a curious species. It’s our instinct to want to remain in-the-know. We innately desire an understanding of what is happening in the world around us. So then why are we so in-the-dark about what is happening inside of our own bodies?
Health is a relative scale.
Whether we are healthy or not is a confounding question, often followed by doubt and uncertainty. As we age the question becomes increasingly more top of mind. We lose the invincibility of our youth and uncover the burden of age. We are overcome with a helpless feeling of not being able to undo the past. “Health”, so it seems, slaps us across the face in a moment of decline, rather than being an omnipresent indicator of well-being throughout our days. Many of us are guilty of monitoring our bank accounts, friends, and number of unread emails over our health and well-being. Which is fair considering the complexity in understanding one’s health and well-being isn’t as simple as counting the number of steps you take in a single day or simply looking at a number inside the red circle of an messaging application. But an apple a day at some point isn’t going to be enough to keep the doctor away. So if the app culture has taught us anything in life, we need to make the means of knowing our health more accessible, more affordable, and more connected to enable people to more frequently interact with each others health on a day-to-day basis. If we reduce the burden we possibly increase the duration and quality of life.
Solving the puzzle.
We love methods for quantifying things, quantifying one’s self is becoming more common place. People are wearing band’s to track how much they move, watches which listen to their heart beat, and logging what they eat and drink. All positive signs towards having a picture of one’s health. But by no means does this form a complete picture. Rather it’s like having only a couple of pieces of a entire jigsaw puzzle figured out. It’s often been the job of doctors to piece together the complex puzzle of our health, all while being blindfolded and somehow simultaneously managing multiple puzzles. It’s not news to anyone that this system is broken. To quote BJ Miller from his recent TED talk, “The American healthcare system has more than it’s fair share of disfunction to match it’s brilliance.” The dysfunction of the current system is not placing people at the center. A system designed to put healthcare back into the hands of people and caregivers can greatly reduce the mystery of our health and begin to allow us a deeper understanding of ourselves.
“The American healthcare system has more than it’s fair share of disfunction to match it’s brilliance.” — BJ Miller at TED
The time is ripe.
The effects of design in healthcare will have a profound impact on life. Design is an opportunity to improve signal and reduce noise in a system that is over stretched and under utilized. To make something clear, understandable, and ultimately more functional is how design move from being merely aesthetic to being an instrument of change. It is greatly needed in the life sciences, to better understand this life we share. I have heard the call and am ready for the challenge.
As of July 2015, I’ve moved to Silicon Valley to begin the next chapter. I’ve joined forces with the team at Scanadu to begin understanding the shape of our health. I’m excited to see what we will be able to do together and look forward to sharing with all of you the developments as they are born.