The Next Big Frontier in Healthcare

Introducing Prescribe Design

The next big frontier in healthcare lies in the hands of an unforeseen bunch. They’re not developing the next blockbuster drug or groundbreaking surgery. They’re not even publishing their celebrated research in medical journals. Designers are one of the most untapped, underutilized assets in the healthcare industry. Prescribe Design is about revealing healthcare’s new secret weapon: designers.

The designers’ superpowers are empathy and prototyping. Underlying both of these is a commitment to learning—learning about people’s needs, learning through experimentation and trial, and arriving at a solution through iteration and discovery. Design isn’t being used to its full potential in healthcare today. Graphic design, device design and architectural design are already commonly understood practices in healthcare, and there are many other design disciplines that have a critical role to play. It is critical to create the conditions in the healthcare industry for designers—along with healthcare ‘natives’—to put the disciplines of empathy and prototyping into action. The people who are joining the Prescribe Design conversation are committed to this change.

We are firm believers in the power of design—people-centered design—to radically transform healthcare. That’s why we created this community: to merge the conversations and spark new ones by bringing design natives and healthcare natives together. We call it Prescribe Design for a couple of reasons. First, it’s an action. This platform is about sparking conversation that inspires the real, practical collaboration between designers and healthcare natives. Second, it’s inclusive. The name suggests a merging of communities and we even designed our logo to hint at this. A mortar and pestle blends two distinct ingredients into one new, combined whole: design + health.

For clinicians and other types of healthcare natives, our goal is to reveal new ways for you to cause the transformations you care about and help you make connections with like-minded colleagues around the world. For designers, our goal is to bring to light what is unique about working in healthcare and help you discover and share best practices. We will aim to be “match-makers” for designers and healthcare natives to connect and collaborate. We’ll also continually create and share reference tools and case studies to help you make the case for an investment in design.

To start, we’ve invited six rock stars in the field to share their wisdom. We’re inspired by their thinking and are sure you’ll find their work fascinating.

The Designer Will See You Next by Dr. Matthew Prime

Designing for Behavior as the Critical Path for Patient Engagement by Dr. Steph Habif

Patient-Centered Participatory Design by Dr. Joyce Lee

Doctor-Designer Duos, an interview with Dr. Sarah Huf & Gianpaolo Fusari

The Design of Innovation: Taming the Beast in a Complex System by Chris McCarthy

Health and healthcare systems are vastly different around the world, but it’s easy to agree that healthy and productive people are key to flourishing communities. Healthcare systems should strive to be effective—not merely efficient—at supporting healthy people. People-centered design is a powerful tool toward achieving such a symbiotic system—what today seems like a distant reality. We believe there should be a set of common principles that prescribes a way of working for design and healthcare natives after this noble goal—a compass to ensure we’re working in the right way. But no one individual or organization can create this—it must be inspired by people working on the front lines. With that, we’re happy to have you join the conversation.

Join us on twitter using the hashtag #PrescribeDesign.

Join the Prescribe Design group on LinkedIn.

Aaron SklarAaron Sklar is VP of Design at Welltok. And he is a co-founder of Prescribe Design.


Lenny NaarLenny Naar is a Design Strategist working inside an acute general hospital
in London with the HELIX Centre. And he is a co-founder of Prescribe Design.

6 thoughts on “The Next Big Frontier in Healthcare”

  1. Warren Amyx CRNA
     ·  Reply

    I have been a clinician ( Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist), for 25 plus years now. I was not an early adopter to digital process. I have since invested my time and completed an educational pursuit of a Master Degree in Medical Informatics.
    Your premise here is exactly what is missing from the product vendor market in healthcare currently . That is the discussion between the digital designer and the ( clinical Healthcare native ) as you describe here. That conversation has to go on.

    • lennynaar
       ·  Reply

      I couldn’t agree more, Warren. Thank you for adding your thoughts and godspeed with your studies in Medical Informatics! We must move beyond “vendor-provides-product” and instead into people-centered co-design. We won’t see the uptake we need to make meaningful change if patients and clinicians aren’t part of the ‘creating.’ Keep us posted on your educational pursuits – would love to hear about your learnings along the way.

  2. Aaron Sklar
     ·  Reply

    James, yes we have a great pipeline of pieces coming soon. Several are already written and waiting in the queue, and other’s have been commissioned and will show up in the coming months…

  3. David Samuels
     ·  Reply

    I am a practicing Anesthesiologist for 25 years. Over the past few years I have been fascinated by digital health. As I have inquired about embedding digital health into medical practice, I have found that the flaws of our “sick”-care system are because we have never put the Patient first. I have since followed the wonderful work of Joyce Lee. I have come to the very same conclusion that you have here. The fix to the Health system is going to be made through Human-Centered design. I am presently taking my second course through IDEOU (I highly recommend this to everyone here, especially the clinicians). Bravo to the founders of #prescribedesign. I am here to learn how to move forward and prescribedesign to health.

    • lennynaar
       ·  Reply

      Thanks, David. Keep us posted on how you incorporate your learnings from IDEOU into clinical practice.

  4. Cory Ogden
     ·  Reply

    Aaron and Lenny,

    Thank you so much for putting together this great platform for discussion. I’m excited to read on.

    I’ve been a primary care physician fro about 3 years and I also work for my department on designing tools to help improve efficiency when working with our Electronic Health Record. Over the last few months I have been reading more and more about design thinking (have “The Art of Innovation” on my kitchen table right now) and I’m excited to try to bring some of these concepts to my group to help make change. Our organization is growing more and more members every year and we are losing more and more physicians who are just no longer satisfied and feeling overwhelmed and burned out with their work. I’m afraid we are on the verge of a breaking point and new ideas on how we deliver care to our patients are badly needed.

    Cory Ogden, MD

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.