Designing the future of health care

See how the Design Lab is using human-centered design to develop health care solutions people want.

MAR 4, 2021

At the center of health care is people. From every type of health care worker to individuals receiving care. As health care systems and other companies work to transform care, it only makes sense that people should be at the center of solutions created. This is known as human-centered design, and it’s a process the Design Lab specializes in.

What exactly does that mean? Suppose we’ve heard from many individuals that they don’t like the check-in process for clinical visits. As part of human-centered design, we would work to gain a better understanding of their concerns through interviews and research.

Hands work around materials in meetingThe Design Lab, a part of OSF Innovation, would then define patients’ most common needs and wants, and formulate ideas based on those needs and wants with a focus on a simplified user design and interface.

Next, we would build a prototype of a solution, and test that concept with users (patients), incorporating feedback along the way. Once the prototype gets to a point where it is nearly flawless, we would deploy the solution with the people we serve.

This is a process we aim to integrate into the development of health care solutions. With a focus on community health, the Design Lab will gather information on the streets of urban communities and in the fields of rural towns to create technology and tools for vulnerable populations.

Meeting our patients’ needs

Before the lab’s inception, I was working on projects that aim to improve experiences for both patients and those training to be physicians. These concepts will continue within the Design Lab.

The first is the development of a heart failure app that will be a resource to patients who’ve been diagnosed with a heart condition. Another idea in the works is the creation of a skin lesion app to help medical students learn how to identify skin lesions, determine their severity and choose the right treatments. The app can also be used by primary care doctors who are often the only clinician some patients will see.

Looking to the future, my team is working on a project to better connect the homeless population with health care. As part of this effort, we are placing iPads in shelters for residents to use. The goal is to help those in need gain access to resources, such as food, transportation or employment. Individuals can also use the mobile device to connect with faith community nurses who deliver health care to disadvantaged populations where they are.

Another large venture we are undertaking is to better reach children in underserved, low-income areas who are unvaccinated. With grants from the Jump Applied Research for Community Health through Engineering and Simulation (ARCHES) program and from the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), we’re teaming up with research colleagues at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Illinois State University to develop an artificial, intelligence-driven heat map and dashboard.

Data from the dashboard will direct a mobile vaccination program that provides free recommended children’s vaccinations in underserved areas of central Illinois.

Partner with us

As we design solutions for our patients and clinicians, we want to ensure we develop concepts that address their needs and solve their real-world problems. We will do this, by putting them at the center of idea development.

We are excited to share our upcoming work. If you are interested in learning more about the Design Lab, participating in certain aspects of the journey, or if you’d like to invest or partner, contact us today.


barrows_scott.pngScott Barrows was previously vice president of marketing at a biotechnology laboratory in Virginia, and vice president of creative at a medical software “think tank” in Nevada. Barrows is a clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine at University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria and retains the role of clinical assistant professor in biomedical visualization at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was also an assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Barrows has been the recipient of numerous awards, including recognition from two U.S. Presidents, the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Illinois.

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