Design Challenge

Kate Martin, MD | May 2, 2022

You’ve probably observed a situation that needs to be improved in your daily life. Perhaps you’ve even identified a gap between the current state (the problem) and the desired state (the goal) of a process or a product. Maybe it’s the current wait time until the next episode is released in the latest streaming series that you can’t get enough of. Or, you have an idea that would bring back your favorite pizza. Wait, that one is already taken? No problem. It’s time for a design challenge.

It’s your turn to make something happen. Are you ready?

Health design thinking involves putting your ideas, information, observations and anything else that matters into the context of a human-centered problem statement. Think of a human-centered problem as an unmet need in someone’s life. Here are some examples, from the user’s perspective:

  • I am a wheelchair user and my health is important to me. At each visit, my doctor’s office asks me how much I weigh instead of checking it like they do for other patients. This makes me frustrated and feel like they don’t care as much about me.
  • I have Down syndrome and work at my neighborhood grocery store. I would like to be treated like anyone else my age. However, people talk to me like I’m a little kid. Even my doctor does it! This makes me feel like people underestimate me.
  • I was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in elementary school and I’m in college now. Sometimes I have difficulty concentrating. It affects me during conversations with my doctor. I understand better when there are visuals/diagrams provided. However, I feel like people will think I’m not intelligent if I ask for help.

A good problem statement produces a clear statement of the issue that the designer seeks to address, maintaining the focus on the user at all times.

So, now that you know how to develop a human-centered problem statement, you, too can say, “challenge…accepted!”

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