Design + Health:
Kathleen Brandenburg Featured on
Design Lab Podcast with Dr. Bon Ku

by IA Collaborative on 11.02.2021

The Pair Discuss Design for Behavior Change, Designing for Wants vs. Needs, and Applying a Design Mind to Medicine

Kathleen Brandenburg, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of IA Collaborative, sat down with Dr. Bon Ku for Episode 20 of his Design Lab podcast.

The pair discussed everything from designing for behavior change to bringing a design mind to the medical world.

Brandenburg shared stories of doing research for healthcare clients where she and the IA Collaborative team had to get creative with their research methods to truly understand the user experience – and in the case of an orthopedic client, even going so far as to scrub in for surgery and “operate” on fake bones.

The people that are designing the tools, the experiences, the environments – these people aren’t surgeons or doctors, they’re designers. So the only way to do a good job – a lifesaving job – is to live the problem to design the solution.

-Kathleen Brandenburg, CO-Founder, CO-CEO, IA Collaborative

Although it goes against traditional ways of thinking within healthcare, getting people to adhere to new regimens or change their health behaviors starts with designing for their wants just as much as designing for their needs. As Brandenburg said, designing to make things easier for patients is a pretty low bar. We should also strive to make the experience enjoyable – even joyful.

“Rather than just making experiences easier [in healthcare], why don’t we make them enjoyable?
Why don’t we make them joyful?”

Both Dr. Ku and Brandenburg have experience teaching design methods to medical students, and those students without backgrounds in design. They talk about how bringing design thinking and methods into your approach can add significant impact to your work. 

“I think a lot of healthcare systems can benefit so greatly from working with creative minds and companies like [IA Collaborative]. I would love to see a lot more of those partnerships happening.”

-Dr. Bon Ku, Director, Health Design Lab, Thomas Jefferson University; Host of the Design Lab podcast

Listen to the whole episode below, or check it out here.

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