At an early age, Ingeborg Griffioen knew she wanted to develop healthcare products. Over the last ten years, she and her team have been striving to make healthcare more effective and intuitive through the power of design. As founder and CEO of design studio Panton, she is convinced that design can help address the growing complexity in healthcare for patients and practitioners alike.
After earning her Master’s Degree in Industrial Design Engineering at Delft University of Technology, Griffioen began her career as a designer at Enraf-Nonius, working on medical devices for rehabilitation and physical therapy. She then went on to join design agency Indes where she launched the company’s medical design business unit. In 2005, Griffioen established her own design agency, which is devoted entirely to healthcare.
“I believe designers have the creativity to help design great and much-needed solutions to master complexity in healthcare,” Griffioen says. “We just need up-to-date, evidence-based knowledge in an accessible format. That’s where design research comes in.” Together with the Panton designers, Griffioen is involved in a number of design projects that range from medical devices used in operating rooms to infographics on complex treatment processes and even a cancer-prevention app that helps people change their lifestyle.
As a Design United Visiting Professor at Delft University of Technology, Griffioen is working on a research project entitled “Design for Medical Decisions”. Her aim is to better understand the complex process of shared decision-making in the clinician’s practice, where diagnoses and further treatment are determined by the practitioner and where patients give their consent to the treatment. By listing and mapping evidence-based elements that can contribute to shared decision-making, the designer can examine how all these factors interact. These elements include such details as the layout of the room and the provision of information and decision aids. Through her research, Griffioen will then be able to bundle this knowledge into tools that will help industrial designers who are working in the healthcare field.
Designing for healthcare
Griffioen’s determination to design for a better, more effective and more humane healthcare system is deeply rooted in her past experience as a patient. “When I was a child, I spent some days in the hospital,” she shares. “It made an everlasting impression. I’ll never forget the fear, the long, lonely hours at night with lots of pain, the scary machinery, the weird smells, waiting for visiting hours and the loss of autonomy. Even though some things have fortunately improved over the years, I still see tremendous room for improvement in my daily work and the many healthcare workers and patients in need of better healthcare solutions.”
That being said, Griffioen believes that design research is critical in determining how various designed products, environments, information and services can interact and support healthcare. “With enthusiasm, I’ve seen the shift in designers’ focus from product design towards design strategy, design management and service design,” she says. “I hope the next step will be a fully integrated system approach of design to master complexity in healthcare.”