Participatory Design for Senior Healthcare: Service Design to Improve Seniors’ Health Literacy and Autonomy

Presenter: Houjiang Liu

Research Category: Humanities and Arts
Additional Authors: Miso Kim, Anni Xu, Marina DiPiazza, Nirban Bhatia

Current technology is changing the delivery of healthcare services. The ways that patients communicate with healthcare professionals and access health information have been incorporated in a participatory culture with data-sharing and self-services. These changes are mediated by wearable devices, smartphones, tablets, and smart home devices, creating the assumption that everybody is constantly connected to a wireless Internet network.

However, seniors are alienated from the benefits of this transformation due to their cognitive and physical decline and inferior position in the economy. Since most digital health services are not designed for seniors, there is a need to re-approach those digital mediums such as Tele-Care, hearing aids, and other technologies by providing the tools necessary to minimize the disparity.

This project aims to redesign community healthcare services to support the literacy and self-autonomy of seniors over 65. We first interviewed 20 participants, including seniors and caregivers. Secondly, we implemented two participatory design workshops. One was meant to brainstorm solutions to the most pressing issues affecting the daily health of seniors. Our goal is to ease the caregivers’ difficulties in service management. The other used information gathered from the first workshop to teach seniors how to use those toolkits. We are partnering with Peabody Properties, the real estate company that provides 13000+ seniors living across New England.

We integrate the above practices into a systematic service for other organizations to support seniors’ health. This service design project brings together humanities, technology, and business to address the disparity in seniors’ healthcare through service design.