In order to dive in the healthcare topic and generate initial ideas, I designed a set of speculative objects that addresses the problems and needs in the existing healthcare systems. Thanks to the helpful method that I followed, I came up with many speculative object ideas some of which I prototyped. By using lateral thinking
methodology, which is an important and helpful method for generating as many ideas as one can, exploring different territories and different opportunities in healthcare became much more convenient. Lateral thinking is a method invented by Edward de Bono, who is the author of the “Lateral Thinking” book which teaches how to be open minded, more creative and playful to generate more ideas easily. In his book he talks about looking to things differently and opening all the receptors in order to see as many opportunities as possible.
According to Bono it is essential to unleash the mind and play with numerous “irrelevant” concepts irreverently. By having no limitations and no fear, one can easily come up with tons of ideas, most of which will probably sound like silly and nonsense. However, as the journey goes on, magic happens and unthinkable ideas occur one by one. It is very surprising to see how human brain loves being creative and playful and doesn’t prefer judgmental comments at this phase. This could also be observed in kids’ behaviors. They don’t have the fear of making mistakes. They play, they ruin, they do silly things but at the end they surprise adults with their magical creativity.
Using this method, it was very enjoyable and delightful to think about the healthcare topic and try to come up with interesting ideas. The outputs of the exercise were sketches and prototypes. Starting questioning pre-assumptions with “what if…” clauses I started to dream about the ideal healthcare experiences. What
if the tools were less scary? What if the doctors were friendlier? What if the needle was not sharp? What if hospitals looked like lovely coffees? What if the newspapers only had good news? Lateral thinking method and provocative questions helped me to put my thoughts and insights on the paper. I was able to see my initial ideas and opinions much more clearly. By doing so, I realized that I was mainly playing around three main categories. The first is the interaction between the patients and the medical devices, second is the interaction between patients and doctors and the third is the relationship between the patients and their long term diseases. There are many other intersections of many other elements for sure but these were the ones that came to the surface.
Medical tools and devices, or any product and artifact that get in touch with patients in hospitals have impact on their psychology and on their experience. Designers design new products that aim to eliminate those bad impacts for sure, but it is still a fact that hospitals are not full of lovely objects. The IV drips, needles, multifunctional patient beds, surgery tools, examination tools, knives, scissors and many others have not changed for a long time. There might be rational reasons behind this persistency but it doesn’t mean that interventions are impossible. I started with the scariest tool that is the most common in hospitals, which is the syringe. Syringe has a long cylindrical body with level marks on it, and a sharp metal scary needle at the bottom. It is not only a fear for many people including adults and kids, but also a phobia for many people who can’t even think about it. One of the initial concept in my speculative objects work is a smooth and cute syringe that hides its needle like a bee. The idea was that it could be more acceptable and less scary if the patient doesn’t see the scary part of the syringe but sees a big balloon-like smooth ball that
approaches to his arm.
The interaction between patients and doctors was the second issue in my speculative objects work. Doctors are the core of the hospital experience for patients who see them to find out the reasons behind their illness. The experience of visiting a hospital might be awful or wonderful depending on the attitude of the doctors. A friendly doctor who approaches his/her patients with respect and care will definitely lead a healing and calming experience, whereas a tired and angry doctor who yells on his/
her patients and doesn’t respond their needs will probably cause a terrible experience. Empathy is an essential tool in order to build bridges. It is not fair to expect from doctors to be patient and calm all the time while they are having extra-ordinarily busy days with no sleep. On the other hand it is also unfair to expect from patients not to depend on doctor’s behaviors since doctors are the most important source of the information that they are dying to learn. The concept I develop to address this issue is a necklace that makes emotions visible through color coding. By using this necklace both doctors and patients can constantly communicate their emotions to each other.
Finally, the third issue is the relationship between patients and their long term illnesses. Some diseases are acute, some are chronic and some are unimportant whereas some are fatal. There are many people in world who have to live with very bad diseases for the life time. Mental wellness and emotional support become much more essential in these scenarios. For instance a cancer patient who is dealing with tiring and exhausting treatments crave for love and support. Communicating with family and close friends become much more important. On the other hand, hearing and seeing bad things, bad news, and tactless comments might affect them terribly. Third concept focuses on this issue, re-thinking a newspaper for mentioned type of users. The concept is a special newspaper called “The New Your Times” which is curated by the New York Times. The purpose of the New Your Times is to filter the bad news and deliver the good news to patients. Good news might be from all around the world and from patient’s social environment such as his/her friends, family, partners, co-workers, etc. By creating a platform that only delivers the good news, the intention of the concept is to celebrate the life and keep the morale high.