Better Health, By Design

Students in the Design+Health class, a partnership between Brown Medical School and RISD


Sending Design to School

There are few precedents for interdisciplinary, collaborative learning opportunities for design and medical students early in their education. During this critical phase, students are absorbing their respective disciplines with enthusiasm while also challenging traditional concepts and seeking out ways to incorporate progressive thinking into their future careers. Through early collaboration, these eager minds gain exposure to unique perspectives and expertise that can broaden their respective skill sets for problem solving. Medical students can acquire skills for innovative thinking and production and design students can gain conceptual grounding in clinical medicine and health in order to direct their creative talents.

To promote the value of cross-disciplinary collaboration, we created Design+Health, a developing partnership between the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).(d) One of Design+Health’s first projects is a joint course that seeks to increase awareness of the capacity of all fields of design to influence health, and to foster collaboration and effective communication between the health and design disciplines. By bringing together design students and medical students during their formative educational experiences, our goal is to break down traditional silos in education in order to unlock innovative capacity and create a new approach to best understand and respond to complex problems involving health.

The human element has always been as important to medicine as the scientific side. Design takes this human factor into account by analyzing how healthcare is provided and used and how the behavior of doctors, patients, and other actors promotes or impedes health. Through novel systems that bring medical resources to underserved areas, redesigned hospital and exam rooms that help providers offer better care, and medical devices that empower patients to improve their own health, design has a pivotal role to play in healthcare. —> Read More