Design Challenge

Challenge: Innovate to Improve the Systems that Affect Our Lives

The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country but sees poor health outcomes compared to other westernized countries that spend less. Why is that? What can be done to change it?

Finding the answer is one of the biggest challenges of our time. It’s clear that the solution is complex and multifaceted. It’s not a matter of implementing a new technology that will improve our system in one fell swoop. The problem is part structural, part societal and part cultural. For example, clinicians can encourage patients to wear a FitBit to track their steps and hope to motivate them to walk more, which would lead to better health outcomes. But if the patient lives in an area where crime makes it unsafe to walk, or the infrastructure is poor and there are no sidewalks or safe roads to walk on…well, that FitBit isn’t really going to solve the problem. A focus on social determinants of health, the design of the systems that support our lives, and the human-centered design process can help us to identify obstacles to healthy behaviors and address them programmatically.

With this in mind, Mad*Pow’s Center for Health Experience Design, Health 2.0 Advocates, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have teamed up to issue a design challenge. We are asking innovators in the health and design communities to consider how systems we use every day might be designed to yield health instead of sickness. How can we better build health into our lives by reshaping how we eat, sleep, move from place to place, socialize, and entertain ourselves? Are there systematic changes that might encourage people to spend more time outside, or ways we could design workplaces or transportation systems that would motivate people to move around more throughout the day? We’re counting on designers and creative thinkers in health, technology, and other industries to come up with some fresh ideas for structural changes to the fundamentals of people’s daily lives that will yield better health.

What is the Design Challenge?

The Design Challenge seeks the most creative minds to imagine solutions that improve health, not just by focusing on healthcare and medicine, but by also taking a new look at our daily lives. Entries will focus on ideas that are speculative, but also feasibly executable in the next five to ten years. These ideas are to change the environment to a healthier default, and incorporate multiple technologies or parts of a system. A panel of judges will choose two winning solutions: one design that targets specific healthy behaviors and one design that envisions broad, systematic change. These two winning entries will be announced on October 16, 2019 and will share $10,000 in prizes. Click here for more information on participating in the Design Challenge.

What is the goal or desired result of the Design Challenge?

Creative thinkers from the tech industry have been on the forefront for years with innovations to encourage healthier lifestyles. However, these innovations rely on prompting people to make healthy decisions in the moment and don’t address the underlying infrastructure, norms and culture that guide behavior. Our current environment makes us swim upstream to be healthy – it is a constant battle. It’s our hope that the Design Challenge will encourage creative minds from health, design, and tech to envision ideas that could alter everyday routines in ways that make healthy lifestyles the default. Can we change our transportation system to provoke better health for Americans? What could be done for agriculture or food distribution to create healthier lives?  How can we make it safer to be outside, or how can we bring nature to people? The possibilities are limitless and we believe there are innovators out there with the creative genius to construct ideas that will have a real impact on real people.

Help cheer on the country’s most creative problem solvers by following the results at Information on the winners and their innovative ideas will be available after October 16, 2019. Or better yet, join the Design Challenge yourself. (Click here) and share your ideas to help make the world a healthier place.

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