One of the goals of Apps & Maps Studios is to teach urban youth design and technology so that they can become entrepreneurs (see another story on this here.) It is being to bear fruits. One of our students, Nick Nicodemus, has started a start-up building mobile games, called Jumpbutton Studio. He started the company together with other young developers around the country. I am excited to form a partnership with them to further develop some of the Apps & Maps projects into commercially available products.
Existing solutions for electronic patient record systems fail because they begin with a wrong assumption. As I understand it, the original patient record system was invented by Mayo clinic in 1907. The idea is that for each patent, the hospital would create and maintain a central dossier folder for all medical records for an individual patient. Contemporary electronic patient record system is not much different from this ancient way of managing documents. We create an electronic repository for all patients in electronic form. Such records are however currently owned and managed by hospitals who created them. When patients do not move and keep their relationship with the same hospital for a long time, it may work just fine. However, as the patients mobility grows and they have to interact with so many different specialists, the old hospital centric patient record system must be replaced with a patient centric system.
So, it looks like this. After each visit, the doctor will generate some type of record. Patients will collect that information (either via in paper or in digital) and store them in a cloud service in digital form. Hospitals and doctorals must request access to the patient data. Patients can also grant access to whomever they am willing to grant access to the data. It is maintained by a trusted third-party company who is primarily working for patients, not doctoral or hospitals. Patients' subscription to the service can be covered by the insurance and more accurate information sharing can reduce the overall cost of healthcare service. Right now, if a patient want to move her doctor or hospital, the patient have pay a fee to get “her own data”. If she am in an emergency room in a remote country, there is very little chance that the doctors and hospitals there can access her medical information. Just like many other data from my life, medical data should be mine and primarily serve my interests.
What is needed is not mere electronic replica of century old paper-based system, but rather new type of digital vault of personal data. The ownership of the data should be exclusively to the patients and their immediate family members. In old days, storing and maintaining large-volume of medical records at home was not safe or practical. With today’s digital technology, it is time to rethink about patient records and design a new system.
Ever since the introduction of iPhone featuring a flat multi-touch screen that replaced physical keyboards, the scope of traditional industrial design on new product developments has been shrinking. Instead of providing physical interface, many companies opted to offer software-defined functions that make the product flexible and reprogrammable. For a typical smart phone, the work of industrial design is largely limited to the design of the frame, few buttons, back cover and some accessories like battery chargers and earphones. Compared to feature phones where industrial design defined the look and feel of the product, software now mainly define how smart phones look and feel. This led to the massive expansion of the role of UX design over the last 10 years.
However, with the emergence of “smart” devices, wearables and Internet of Things, we are likely to see the return of industrial design as one of the key differentiators of products. In fact, we are likely to see a massive convergence of different design domains including product, fashion, and UX together with different domains of engineering including mechanical, material, electrical, and software to form a new foundation of new product development. In the past, a successful product development meant a tight collaboration between industrial design and mechanical engineering. Recently, this has been replaced with a collaboration between UX design and software engineering. In the emerging field of wearables and smart devices, however, companies will need tight collaborations among these six domains. So, from a design standpoint, it is not just whether design will lead the innovation process, but which design domain will lead the process. Some companies will be led by physical domain team (industrial design + mechanical engineering + material engineering), whiles others will be led by digital domain team (UX design + software engineering + electrical engineering). Eventually, some companies might find more harmonious relationship between the two domains. Subtle differences among these options are likely to produce fairly substantive differences in the way firms approach to emerging market of smart products and their ultimate fate in the market.
Apple’s recent hire of Marc Newson or its invitation of fashion editors, together with the fact that Jon Ives is an industrial designer (and the departure of Scott Forstall), all seem to indicate that Apple lets the physical domain design lead the digital domain. This is a stark contrast to companies like Google and Samsung where physical domain seems to take a back seat. It is likely that, however, these other companies will be forced to take industrial design seriously once again.
Another interesting case is the recent announcement by LG about the circular plastic slim OLED panel. This clearly is an engineering innovation led by the demand created by physical design, which will provide an opportunity implement clever UX options. As digital technology continues to penetrate deeply into the physical world, the crash between these two domains of design will only continue to rise. We will see this type of convergent design-engieering collaboration that encompasses both physical and digital domains as companies continue struggle to figure out exactly how to design these “smart” and wearable devices and what the hell they actually are.