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  • Writer's pictureCorina Paraschiv

(Not) Designing for Extremes in Healthcare

It came to my attention last week that in healthcare, something counter-intuitive occurs: you must fail to design for the extremes. Sometimes, at least. 

I was talking with a colleague of mine from the Design Thinking Collective, which I helped co-found back in 2016. Monia Poncik is the lead designer on a project re-imaging end of life discussion for children living with cancer.  We will have the chance to hear more about it in an upcoming episode of Healthcare Focus, but here is an interesting point she raised to start our reflection. 

Healthcare is one of the few fields where we design predominantly for the extremes. Insurances are built on the careful study of outliers.  Doctors prescribe treatment to people who deviate from an established norm. We study births. Deaths. Both moments representing extremes within a lifespan. 

In between these extremes, however, is life. Life with chronic conditions, which represent 71% of our care management spending. Palliative care or impaired quality of life, touching some 90 million Americans living with serious illnesses.   This is why I am glad people like Monia and I - and all the wonderfully brave physicians, researchers and administrators building these projects with us - are turning our attention to the seemingly mundane. 

To hear more about the palliative care project, listen to this episode of Healthcare Focus. 

To discover more about my Difficult Decisions in Healthcare project, read this great article. 

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