Healthcare is like a massive ship. What life preservers can we set for wading these deep waters?

When thinking of transitioning to healthcare, many designers think of innovating in the patient care space, because that’s the immediate, familiar space for many of us. However, that doesn’t touch all the aspects of healthcare. I share stories of successes and failures, such as the time I caused a distrust of design with genetic counselors, because I didn’t establish a common language. And the time I included the question “how are you feeling?” in a diary study that unexpectedly led to behavior change.

It’s like a ship. A designer must learn the ropes, patch the small holes, sail close to the wind, and most importantly, understand the passenger.

Healthcare is not only about patient-centered products and services. It’s also about the other products and services that support the patient care—electronic medical records, billing services, health insurance, and even hospital websites. How might we help a designer make the leap into the unknown?


Jennifer Ng freelances in San Francisco to improve experiences through behavior design, storytelling, and design thinking. Her design philosophy originates from the mantra: design the right thing, rather than design the thing right. She led user experience design at Mayo Clinic. She has been a product designer and experience researcher at a diverse set of companies, including Livongo Health, HP webOS, Barnes & Noble nook, and Method. Jennifer holds a Masters in Human Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University.