Debate at DogA, Oslo april 28th 2010

Martyn Perks (UK)

Alastair Donald (UK)
Martin Bontoft (UK)
Lavrans Løvlie (NO)
John-Arne Røttingen (NO)


Can design save healthcare?

Many countries are cutting back on expensive healthcare provision. In the UK all political parties want to cut bureaucracy and target the public’s health in order to reduce demand. The recession has put preventative healthcare high on the agenda, targeting people’s ‘unhealthy’ behaviour as an unnecessary burden on limited resources.

In response many designers believe they can help reform the National Health Service. On one hand they want to redesign services around patient needs, emphasising satisfaction and service. On the other hand, they believe design can change our behaviour bringing about healthier outcomes, getting us to eat, drink or smoke less. Design ideas include the re-design of food labelling, buildings that keep us fit, or using behavioural psychology techniques to influence how we make choices.

But should design help make cutbacks that target people’s behaviour, or should it be more concerned with advances in science, technology and services that can liberate us from health problems altogether? This debate will question why governments use design, and whether all of this will end up providing us better healthcare provision?

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