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Collaborating on Health Design

Collaborating on Health Design

At an August 28 mini-conference in Providence called Collaboration = Innovation, medical professionals and designers heard from RISD students past and present about the latest innovations and trends in the growing field of design for the healthcare industry. Organized by Care New England’s Manager of Digital Marketing Michael Esordi 91 GD, the event focused on the work of Elio Icaza Milson 15 ID, Amy Goldfeder MID 13 and Ximedica CIO and co-founder Aidan Petrie MID 85.

One of the founders of the RISD/Brown student initiative Design + Health, Milson is part of a team of students and faculty from RISD and Brown’s Alpert Medical School that is developing a series of workshops for RISD and Brown students to bring together experts in business, design and medicine. The workshops will explore sounds in the hospital setting (and how familiar sounds from home might stimulate healing in long-term patients), toys that promote physical rehabilitation, and innovations in prosthetics design, among other topics. Milson noted that all of the workshops will focus on integrating empathy into healthcare design.

As a grad student in Industrial Design, Goldfeder began working on Pause Emote, a mobile app that will allow mental health patients to easily track their emotions between therapy sessions. The data inputted populates a visual calendar –with different colors assigned to different emotions – providing an easy visual cue for the patient and therapist to identify patterns and develop appropriate therapeutic strategies.

Petrie, the Ximedica executive who frequently teaches and serves as a guest critic in RISD’s Industrial Design department, said that the industry is “taking off.” He passionately discussed all kinds of high-tech devices in the works at Ximedica – a smartphone app that controls bladder function, a tiny crablike robot that conducts surgical procedures via remote operation – and said that his company is now focusing on improving working conditions for medical staff with the expectation that their increased job satisfaction will mean better care for their patients.

Care New England CEO Sandy Coletta was eager to share her own experiences and insights and expressed the hope that cross-disciplinary gatherings like this one would become standard practice.

Simone Solondz