Startup x design – Person-centred health innovation

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Startup x design – Person-centred health innovation

Startups in the healthcare sector face unique and complex difficulties – patient privacy, patient disempowerment and asymmetries of power, coherent and portable health records are just a few key questions that require considered research and design.

Nigel Ball runs Melbourne-based startup, ELTHI, he is working on a very personal problem. A person in Nigel’s family has scleroderma, a degenerative skin condition requiring increasing levels of management and care. There are multiple touch points in the cycle of care for a person with scleroderma including general practitioners, specialists, hospitals and pathology services.

Nigel is a resident startup at Agnes Health, Melbourne’s first digital health collaboratory. Our Design Lead, Murali Maheswaran, is the designer-thinker-in-residence at Agnes Health. Murali provides weekly design clinics to the startups that work here. Nigel has a real need and was designing a system to support patients to feel “in control” and active in their own care. Our health is personal. In complicated care scenarios, it is easy to feel like an object and not actively involved in managing your own health outcomes.

We work with Nigel to deepen the emotional understanding of what his clients feel and to uncover where ELTHI can provide the greatest value.

How might ELTHI support people with scleroderma to contribute to the management of their care and optimise their interactions with health professionals?

As a result of these design clinics, Nigel pivoted away from his original design and reorganised the value proposition to put the patients firmly in the centre of the design. He uncovered the systemic dynamics in the current model of care, the various personal motivations of the participants and developed insight about the need to partner with “empathetic” specialists in the initial prototypes. TSD built new prototype systems for Nigel to test and learn from. This is an ongoing process.