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Conference paper

Supporting Co-design in Complex Healthcare Systems through the Affordances and Metaphors of Tangible Tools

The healthcare challenges of our society are placing increasing pressure on limited resources available due to an aging population and a substantial growth in patients with chronic diseases (Engström 2014). Due to these challenges, the Norwegian healthcare system is often referred to as being in crisis. However, these challenges alone do not cause healthcare crises, rather crises develop when there is an incapacity to rethink how we meet these challenges, how care is designed for and how care could be provided differently. To avoid devastating financial and societal consequences in the long run and to respond to the wicked problem of healthcare provision, there is a need for immediate and innovative solutions.

Service design and co-design are therefore increasingly being called upon to offer approaches and methods to facilitate collaboration and to harness available resources. Healthcare systems alone consist of multiple stakeholders that need to interact with multiple services in multiple sectors. The communication between these diverse stakeholders needs to be supported in order to be able to re-think and innovate healthcare provision.

This contribution to the RSD6 symposium presents several examples of tangible tools that illustrate the use of affordances and metaphors, highlighting where design specifications for tangible tools are needed and where they could be beneficial. The examples are designed by the author as part of an ongoing research by design PhD focusing on how collaboration can be fostered in the development of healthcare services through affordances and metaphors in tangible tools for co-creation. Through describing the examples, this contribution proposes approaches to creating a scaffolding for designers to assist with the designing of tangible tools. This is expected to consist of design patterns of successful tangible tools, that could lead to the development of a pattern language of tools within service design. Furthermore, the contribution will elaborate on the aesthetic impact that tangible tools have on participants in co-creation workshops and explore what role designers´ aesthetic competence can play in the complex systems that affect citizens´ healthcare and wellness.

Rygh, K. 2017. 'Supporting Co-design in Complex Healthcare Systems through the Affordances and Metaphors of Tangible Tools'. In Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD6). Oslo 56–58. Available: https://systemic-design.net/rsd6/public-sector-and-policy-design/#rygh