4 Ways Design Can Improve our Healthcare System

Earlier this month, we welcomed top design leaders and founders for a discussion about how design can impact the state of healthcare. Our panelists from Omada Health, Better, Commure, Clover Health, and Collective Health also shared case studies from their own work about how they design their products and services to drive positive outcomes. Below is a video of our evening as well as an overview of opportunities for design to improve our healthcare system.   

Watch the full video of Design for Digital Health.

Opportunity #1: Make Data Actionable

We heard countless ways to use data and design to help people and processes across the healthcare spectrum. Healthcare today is seeing a huge increase in the amount of data that is captured about a person. From simple step counts logged on people’s phones to extensive searches people make when they’re seeking care, the amount of data companies can use to build great experiences is vast.

The opportunity for design is to take that data and use it to deliver effective and compassionate healthcare. For example, if someone is going through cancer treatment, a health benefits platform like Collective Health could proactively reach out to that patient to let them know about services and resources available to them like wigs or mental health services. Instead of being another source of stress, health benefits companies could actually become a source of support.

Collective Health created a member profile tool for their support team to help them give patients better and relevant resources depending on the care they require.

Patrick Weiss of Omada Health gave another example of using data to help people improve their health. Omada’s team came up with the concept of health challenges like “Sneak a Walk after Lunch” or “Get Into the Habit of Eating Breakfast”. The belief is that small habit changes could add up to better long-term program outcomes. Each challenge was designed to allow people to track their progress automatically and celebrate them when they successfully completed a challenge. Omada then looked to see if people who completed the challenges had longer term improvements in their health outcomes to decide which challenges to keep and which to cut. The result is a product that uses small and approachable lifestyle changes to create healthy, lifelong habits.

Opportunity #2: Translate Complexity

Everything about the healthcare industry is arduous and complex. As designers, we have opportunity to help translate complexity about nutrition, care availability, or how to navigate insurance labyrinth.

A standard out-of-network form patients need to fill out to get money back from their insurance company.

Better’s product is a great example of this. Currently, when you want to use out-of-network health care, the burden of getting reimbursed from your insurance company falls on you. Complex manual forms, opaque decisions, and long response times result in many people just giving up. Instead, Better allows you to take a photo of the medical bill, upload it to their app, and they will navigate this complex system to help you get money back. It makes healthcare more affordable and gives people more provider choices.

Better lets you easily submit a medical bill and easily understand where you are in the reimbursement process.

Opportunity #3: Improve Healthcare Literacy

There is a huge gap in health knowledge between patients and those who went to medical and nursing school. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand what doctors tell them about a specific diagnosis or how to manage their health which means people are less likely to follow their doctor’s advice properly.

Designers can be the bridge that turns stats, complex terms, and numbers into easy-to-understand knowledge that is delivered in the right way at the right time. For example, Clover Health calls patients who haven’t picked up a prescription refill. They then explain to the patient why it’s important that the medication is taken which improves medication adherence and ultimately their customer’s health outcomes.

Opportunity #4: Increase Empathy

From consumer experiences to health insurance backend tools, design can massively improve the empathy with which healthcare is delivered. For example, Commure is serving doctors by giving them better tools to provide care. Doctors today spend 70% of their time entering data into what is basically an accounting system. This leads to shorter face-to-face meetings and doctor burnout eroding what is one of the most profoundly human to human experiences. As Diede van Lamoen, CEO of Commure says, “instead of replacing doctors with AI, designers can free up doctors to help them focus more of their time on their patients and delivering quality care”.

Charting a New Healthcare Future

We hope sharing insights from events like this inspire more designers to tackle the complex problems in our healthcare system. If you are a designer looking to join a digital health company or a founder starting a company in digital health, please reach out to us. We’d love to help support you in tackling this critical need for people everywhere.


Thank you to Omada Health for co-hosting this event in their wonderful space. All photos were taken by Adrian Walker.

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