Future Healthcare Concepts

First published at my website, ConeTrees.


Here are two human-centered healthcare concepts I have come up with and imagine will be true in the future where technology and service design are applied to not only make the health care experience invisible (concept 1) but fun and way beyond simply retaining the human element (concept 2).

Concept 1: The Phone of the Future- Your Guardian Health Angel

Looking into the future, I see you’re phone as your personal health angel. When it comes to taking care of your health, you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to think about anything. The phone will take care of it for you.

Why the phone? Because it is the one object that is with you at all times. You change clothes, you change locations, you change accessories. But the phone is there with you throughout the day and besides the bed while you sleep. It will be your health monitor. You use it in different positions and moods- crouched up, walking, when you’re calm, when you’re tense. With all the data it can sense from you, every single day, nobody better will know your health than the phone, which continuously monitors your health as long as it is with you, which is probably all the time. Forget about getting an additional device to look after your health, the phone is all you need.

If there’s anything of concern to your health that you can cure or prevent on your own, your phone will let you know. If there’s anything of concern that you can’t fix, the phone will contact your doctor or the nurse who will get in touch with you on the phone through video. You won’t ever feel sick and need to take action because you’re phone will have acted on the situation before it happens. Of course, the phone will not be able to detect everything. That’s why you’re medical monitoring report will constantly be streamed to the doctor who will go through it every month and in case he does detect something unusual, he will get in touch with you.

Your health matters and you need to concentrate on the things that matter in your life. But the phone of the future will do this for you, so you have to concentrate on one thing less, and more on enjoying life.

Concept 2: The Children’s (Not)hospital

Do children like hospitals? Of course not. It’s scary. It’s not fun. It doesn’t make them happy.

If I were to design a hospital for children, I would take them one by one to the hospital (when they’re sick, of course) and start talking with them about it what they thought about it right from the gate, all the way till the time they are discharged (well, I would use a modified cultural probe method to record their feelings about it over time if it was a longer stay). What is it they like or don’t like and why?

If I were to design it, I would design it based around what fun is for children. This concept is based upon creating a <em>Disneyland experience</em> to remove the fear of a hospital and <em>gameification</em> to make children heal faster by wanting to heal faster.

If children like fantasy, cartoons and games, why should the hospital not be it? So here’s a story about Anna who has the flu and is being taken by her parents to the hospital.

Far before Anna  reaches the hospital, she can see giant waving inflatable jokers at the gate. Anna shows mom sitting with her in the back of the car and asks her what that place is. Mom smiles back while dad drives right through the gate where the guard dressed as a pirate tips his hat. Anna opens her mouth in awe and says, “I thought we were going to the hospital!”. “This is the hospital, my love”, says mom.

They drive for a mile before they reach the hospital and all throughout the way, Anna is busy looking at the larger than life cartoon characters pegged by the sides of the road she loves so much.

When they enter the hospital, she see’s ambient walls filled with fairies, toadstools and funny looking gnomes. While she waits, Peter Pan (the attendant) gives her a pair of gloves that let her play games sitting right on her chair. She moves her fingers which are tracked and suddenly, along with the other children, she’s helping the fairies thwack the funny looking gnomes every time they try to steal a pastry from the spread laid out for their toadstool party. She’s in her own fantasy land right now and there is no hospital and no sickness for her right now. There’s only joy and happiness, a lot of it.

It’s time for the doctor to see Anna and she goes in to be greeted by a magician (the doctor, of course!). After he pulls a rabbit out of his hat that has Anna in squeals, he does a quick checkup with his brightly colored medical apparatus and gives Anna three bunny bottles in pink, blue and green (that she can add to her collection of toys once she’s done with the course).

He then goes on to pull out a few medals out of his hat. “Which one are you going to get, my love?”. “I want all of them”, says a laughing Anna. “Well, you can’t have all, but if you want the gold, here’s how you can win it!”. He tells her that if she takes her colored skittle pills from her colored bunny rabbits as mommy gives them, and she recovers quick and comes back to the hospital with no more flu, she’ll get the gold. “Oh well, if you do that, I’ll give you all three of them! How does that sound?”. Anna looks in disbelief to mom while mom strokes her hair.

Anna comes back in a few days fit as fiddle. She’s laughing before reaching the gate and slips into her fantasy world while she drives through it to reach the hospital, enjoying everything she did the last time round. The doctor, or should I say, the magician, is amazed and says he never could have imagined little Anna would recover so quick. He not only gives her the three medals he promised, but he also gives her a certificate after taking a picture of her with her medals (and him sporting a wicked grin) which she can always look back at with pride to remind her of her amazing victory.

She recovered quickly because she wanted to recover quickly. What the mind can conceive, it can achieve, and this is proven by research available today. She wanted to come back to her fantasy land and she wanted the medals, and she wanted to add the three cute bunny rabbits to her family of toys. She wanted to see the magician again and she wanted those medals.

The whole process of going to the hospital, getting diagnosed and cured was not about going to a hospital, not getting diagnosed by a doctor, and not taking horrible pills. For Anna, it was about  fantasy, awe, encouragement and victory. It was something she enjoyed very much.