A Human-Centered Approach to Public Health Design

A series of public health and healthcare projects designed for patients, clients, community stakeholders, researchers and healthcare providers. Each was developed with the intended user, audience and/or patient at its core.

Designing for public and community health projects works best when the intended target audience - whether a patient, a researcher, a nurse or a community member - is considered first and foremost. Many of these projects grew out of specific needs for more human-centered solutions to common issues and challenges facing public health providers and recipients of healthcare services.

In order to achieve their desired user-outcomes, the two projects below needed to be fully navigable, usable and understood by their respective user(s). The first is a mobile census-taking app developed for UC San Francisco's Francis I. Proctor Foundation for Research in Ophthalmology, in order to complete a research project in 3 African nations. The study, funded by a $12 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, tracked the impact of administering high-doses of antibiotics at infancy to decrease infant mortality in rural villages. The app needed to collect, organize and store census data, but just as important, it needed to be highly usable by both study directors and the local field census workers they were partnering with. To achieve this, the interface was designed to be easily translatable into multiple languages, utilized universal iconography, and featured an adaptable interface to work with the different family and cultural structures in each unique village.

The second project is a supplemental client discharge form developed for the San Francisco Veteran's Hospital. After witnessing how multiple forms and sets of instructions from different offices were confusing VA patients and affecting their overall care, a nurse practitioner wanted to develop a single-sheet solution. This resulting form is easier for the majority of the patient population to understand and follow, thus improving their long term care.

In addition to patients, researchers, nurses, physicians and other healthcare workers are integral human parts of creating a healthier world. Below are infographics developed to present 2 different bodies of nurse-led research to other healthcare professionals. Understanding this target audience, the graphic language and layouts utilized take complex ideas and synthesizes them in a way that clarifies them without over simplifying. 

A key component of improving public health - both globally and locally - is to develop communication materials and resources from an audience-centered approach. Information and ideas which are designed for an audience using an appealing visual language, style, and format have the potential to be better understood, more memorable and/or well-received. Below is a collection of public health organization materials that adopt an audience-centered approach. Some are designed for direct client outreach or as resources for client groups, while others are intended as promotional materials for donors and other community stakeholders.

Designs for a Changing World

Global climate change currently impacts every aspect of life on this planet. This series of projects addresses and explores these current global shifts.

ReSound: The Arctic Circle

ReSound hopes to explore what kinds of new ecological understandings and ideas might develop through different methods of perceptual experience, while putting forth a potent metaphor for surviving a potential future given our current ecological crisis.

Using the Arctic Circle as both a focal point and a point of expansion, the ReSound project explores the sonic relationships and connections among different climate change events occurring throughout the world. The unique properties of sound and field recordings will be utilized to express climate change data, as different ecological and geospatial data sets, tied to critical geographies, are transformed into a layered, playable audio soundscape.

The physical installation consist of two main parts. The primary component is a large, interactive sound map that allows users to selectively isolate, play, loop, connect, layer and speed up / slow down the multiple audio streams available. Players interact with this soundscape using the second main part of the piece, a controller made of ice cubes. As the ice cubes melt, players lose the ability to control the system or the environmental soundscape.

Through its application, ReSound examines the potential of using auditory perception to navigate the challenging spatial, temporal and resolution characteristics of ecological systems and climate-change data.

Safe Passage

The Safe Passage Project aims to use GIS technologies to support and aid those individuals attempting to cross into the United States through harsh environments

Current militarized enforcement of the U.S. – Mexico border has resulted in a shocking increase in migrant deaths. Researchers agree that while an exact number is impossible to achieve, most estimate that since "Operation: Hold the Line" policies took effect in 1994, between 3000 and 5000 migrant individuals have died attempting to cross the border. This number is equivalent to one person dying each day, and is most likely an under-estimation.

This tragic loss of human life along the border constitutes a humanitarian crisis that continues to be enacted by the United States’ border control, enforcement and prosecution policies. Many of the agencies tasked with enforcing these policies now utilize GIS, remote sensing and other geospatial and surveillance technologies to better track, identify and apprehend migrant persons attempting crossings. Safe Passage adapts these technologies to work for towards a more human-centered - v.s. nationalist centered - goal: to preserve human life. Inspired by the work of Humane Borders and the Electronic Disturbance Theater, two activist groups that utilize geospatial technologies as forms of “counter resistance” and humanitarian assistance, this project aims to use GIS to complement or enhance previously existing humanitarian endeavors happening along the borderlands.