Updated: Jul 28, 2022
In early 2019, as tech giants like Amazon and Google began to plant their seeds in the medical landscape, I felt a new current in the healthcare waters. For centuries, the concept of practicing medicine mainly existed within the confines of the hospital walls or clinic. But the rise of digital technology, coupled with the need for telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic, opened up the potential to break down those walls, significantly broadening the definition of what it means to practice medicine in today’s age. Certainly, I thought, as a pre-pandemic medical student, a partnership between physician and tech giant must be necessary to ensure technology solutions are not just imposed onto the healthcare system, but are integrated smartly and seamlessly to enhance all elements of patient care. Such an effort would require deep collaboration between doctor and designer, not just on the C-suite level of Vin Gupta, Chief Medical Officer of Amazon’s healthcare initiative, Amazon Care, but throughout all levels of the company. The image in my head involved doctors and designers working hand-in-hand to ensure all elements of product design are serving not only the best user experience, but the best health experience as well. But what would this collaboration truly look like? How would the integration of medical expertise fit into the already established design process? The concept fascinated me, and the prospective future of doctors trading in their Epic IDs for Figma usernames delighted me.
And so, I jumped in. In March of 2020, the beginning of the pandemic, I graduated virtually from The George Washington University School of Medicine, and took my MD into the uncharted waters of health design. Since then I have used my background in medicine to aid, guide, and direct product development at digital health companies. I co-founded a company, consulted for companies in the digital health space on product design, created a YouTube channel, and have even gotten to travel the country talking about my passion of using immersive technologies, like video games, to improve health. I’ve worked side-by-side with developers creating new technologies for COVID-19 at-home testing, platforms to facilitate remote patient monitoring for patients living with diabetes, virtual reality experiences to promote fitness and mental health, and video games to educate physicians on complex medical procedures, or even games to treat diseases and disorders.
Along the way, I have met others who share my same passion for health and design. Some come from backgrounds of health and medicine, and others come from engineering and design, but we all share the same light and excitement around the promise of smart implementation of technology in healthcare. What once felt like a solo adventure, journeying out of the hospital and into the world of technology innovation with nothing but a white coat on my back, has shifted into a movement generated by a tight-knit community of like-minded thinkers, risk-takers, and dream-followers. I call this movement “Health Design” - the newest branch of medicine.
Through this series of blog posts, you will have the opportunity to meet these health designers and learn from their backgrounds, experiences, and stories. We hope that our stories will inspire others who feel the pull to move against the grain, to light the spark inside of them, and unleash it onto the world. To keep up to date with these stories, make sure to follow this blog and sign up for the health design newsletter here.
Amiad Fredman, MD