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Embassy of Health

19 October 2018

Whether it concerns serious games for patients and healthcare providers or hacks of healthcare applications, designers are in many ways active in the healthcare system. With both existing and more speculative projects the Embassy of Health shows how designers are involved in modelling our health.

Designing for Chronic Health

An artificial womb, a bicycle suitable for elderly, insecure cyclists and a game that helps teenage girls cope with the death of a father or a brother – three examples of design interventions that visitors will encounter at the Embassy of Health. At the exhibition entitled ‘Chronic Health: If not us then who?’ at Innovation Powerhouse on the Strijp-T terrain, you will see how designers participate in designing (the future of) healthcare. The accompanying enrichment programme featuring international speakers, meetings, workshops, creative sessions and expert gatherings will further expand on the role of designers in healthcare.

It all starts with empathy

‘Designing for the world of healthcare starts with empathy, the ability to see and to experience through someone else’s eyes,’ says Sabine Wildevuur, programme manager at Waag’s Care and curator of the Embassy of health. Together with VanBerlo design agency, Philips, Maxima Medical Centre, the Dutch Design Foundation and U CREATE, Waag is part of the partnership behind the embassy. These six organisations combine a variety of perspectives in terms of crossovers between healthcare, design, science, technology and art. Last year the collaboration resulted in an exhibition entitled ‘Chronic Health: Designing a Healthy Future’ which was held during the 2017 Dutch Design Week, with support from WDE and DDF.

Creative and disruptive thinking

Through the Embassy of Health, the six partners encourage creative and disruptive thinking about the future of healthcare. The programme aims to raise awareness among citizens, patients, healthcare professionals, policy-makers and others about the role and significance of design in the development of innovative healthcare interventions.

‘The Embassy is an open platform that encourages crossover partnerships in healthcare,’ says Wildevuur. ‘The starting point in this context is empathy, which is a quality particularly well-developed among designers. This enables us to design meaningful and personalised products, services, experiences and systems. In addition, the Embassy focuses on the ethics of designing for healthcare.’

"Designing for the world of healthcare starts with empathy, the ability to see and to experience through someone elseโ€™s eyes" - Sabine Wildevuur, Curator of the Embassy of health

Concrete and speculative design

The primary objective of the Embassy of Health is to inform people about the potential of design thinking and design research in healthcare. And to inspire those directly involved in terms of how to actually implement these things. One way the Embassy will achieve this is through the exhibition entitled ‘Chronic Health: If not us then who?’ in which the Embassy of Health with both concrete and more speculative design projects indicates what directions healthcare is (potentially) going in now as well as in the near and distant future.

One of the things the exhibition highlights is the possibility of hacking healthcare applications in order to take control yourself. It’s also about designers, creators, care and tech professionals who are clubbing together to produce care applications in MakeHealth Live! In addition, the exhibition will display examples of personal digital manufacturing (such as 3D printing), applied gaming, activating programmes and other innovative services and products that can help improve quality of life. The projects on display will provoke discussions about existing and futuristic developments in healthcare.

Enrichment Programme

A logical second objective of the Embassy is to facilitate co-creation in healthcare and to bring together relevant partners in order to stimulate surprising innovations. The Embassy hopes that in the long-run this will lead to design thinking and design research becoming an integral part of innovation in healthcare and in policy-making surrounding healthcare. This way we hope to properly equip future generations of healthcare providers and users to cope with future healthcare challenges.

The Embassy of Health’s enrichment programme offers the deeper understanding essential for preparing people’s minds to accomplish this objective. The Embassy partners will organise ten enrichment sessions, some of which will be open to the public and some of which will be gatherings of experts. These activities will range from workshops, creative sessions and expert gatherings to seminars featuring international speakers.