The relationship between design and medicine is not new. The discipline of design has impacted the medical practice in meaningful ways, from the development of spaces and devices to the optimization of healthcare services and strategies. Earlier approaches have focused primarily on solving or improving specific needs such as designing more hygienic spaces, creating more powerful tools, or increasing medical record efficiency. Function and usability were primary goals. However, as the field of design began to evolve, so did the concept of Medesign. From a utilitarian perspective to a user-centric model, healthcare designers began to explore other dimensions related to experiential comfort, emotions, and motivations from practitioners and patients. The purpose of this study is to expand those user-centered dimensions and to start discussing elements related to the symbolic value and reflective aspects of medicine. A two by two matrix was created to explore the actual universe of healthcare, from a functional approach to an experiential one, to expose opportunities in which design can influence practitioners’ and patients’ well-being. The practitioner-patient axis determines who benefits from the design intervention. The functional-experiential axis determines the level of problem-solving compared to opportunity-driven approaches. Five cases were analyzed according to this matrix to emphasize and define aspects essential to design for well-being and future healthcare. We expect to identify new action fields that expand the interactions between design and medicine. We discusses five directions for applying design for health and well-being that can broaden the spectrum of design interventions, including the use of metaphors, tangible models, and the level of interaction, among others. These directions can create more alternatives for designers who want to promote a more human slant in medicine, creating awareness, understanding, and the involvement of patients, practitioners, and caregivers.
Healthcare design, Symbolic value, Design for wellbeing