“The interplay of health and design isn’t new. In 1857, Nurse (and Data Scientist) Florence Nightingale used design principles to illustrate the casualties of soldiers in the Crimean War and changed national policy. Nightingale showed that soldiers weren’t dying mainly on the battlefield, but instead they were dying in the hospitals due to the poor sanitary conditions there. Nightingale used this now famous diagram to influence hygiene practices in military hospitals, which resulted in lower mortality rates. The kind of design that Nightingale used can be thought of as, “Design to improve understandability.”
Michelle Kim, lead designer at Mango Health, thinks designers should be gamifying healthcare apps so they are fun to play. Kim posits that the same person who enjoys playing Candy Crush Saga, should also have as much ease managing their chronic illness.
The difficult design problem sits within the fact that each user is different depending on the patient’s diagnostic history – so one size can’t fit all, as would be the case of a videogame design.
Kim enhances understandability by leveraging a patient’s familiarity with something they already know. Designers tend to have a broad vocabulary of objects and experiences in the world that they use to help a user “rhyme” something new with what is already old to them. In doing so, they create a context for a new user to be more apt to feel they can understand something new.”