Can good design lead to better health?

24.09.2012

The Patient Protection-Affordable Care Act has been called many things, but an exemplar of good design is not one of them. Until now. The California Health Care Foundation, along with nine other public and private organizations, has called on design firm, IDEO, to help tackle one of the more challenging elements of the act—the statewide health care exchanges—and the expected blitz of enrollees.

Applying its signature human-centered approach, IDEO talked to people on all sides of the federal poverty line to gain a greater understanding of those actually taking advantage of the new healthcare entity and create a platform designed to overcome “the intimidating, overwhelming, and labyrinthine process of exploring options and signing up.”

The result—UX2014—also integrates best practices adapted from the social security administration, financial services companies and dating sites like match.com(!), all of which know from complex enrollment processes and forms.

No mere band-aid approach, IDEO’s interface will put participants in an across-the-board database that will link their one-time-only applications to all federal programs like food stamps and energy tax credits, thus saving them time and the system, money. As Ettore Sottsass might say, “good design makes not just a good society—but a healthier one.”

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