Design for Health is an emerging discipline. As such there seem to be endless opportunities for those working in this area. On the surface, it might appear that ‘Design’ for health is no different from design undertaken in any other context. However, the complexity (wickedness of problems) associated with health means that often design approaches used successfully elsewhere don’t work.
In healthcare organisations, design literacy is often low. Healthcare is a vast, complex system that remains strongly influenced by a biomedical discourse, historical notions of hierarchy, and firmly entrenched traditions. Furthermore, it is often risk-averse, and failure is not part of the culture. This can make embracing new ways of tackling challenges more difficult. Decision-making and oversight are often ‘top down’ via governance/steering groups – often supported by quantitative evidence-based models. This sits in contrast to the fast pace of the changing world, where the challenges our health system faces require them to be innovative and agile.