Humanizing healthcare

Traditional healthcare is broken, but design has a way to change it


by Hannah June Lueptow, Head of Design Research & Strategy at Questtonó

Over the past decade, the perception of health has transformed through new services and technologies, giving everyday people more data about themselves, but there are still challenges in how to manage and transform this information into actionable insights.

As we began quantifying ourselves, the perception of health shifted to be more inclusive to not only physical health, but mental health. In fact, the World Health Organization defines health as, “a state of physical, mental, and social welfare, not the mere absence of disease.”

An Approach to Physical & Mental Wellbeing 

The dichotomies between sickness and health, doctor and patient, no longer fit the modern landscape. This traditional approach has created significant gaps between physical and mental health, highly prioritizing the former and disregarding the latter. This is a key opportunity moment to design more proactive health initiatives that encourage healthy lifestyles and accessibility to resources.

At Questtonó, we follow a set of beliefs to guide our client work to develop innovative experiences within the healthcare industry.

Democratized Healthcare

We believe in creating more human futures by understanding behaviours, desires, and needs to promote positive societal transformations.

When Covid-19 hit, there was a global need for PPE and ventilators. Alongside some of our collaborators on past projects, we gathered a team of engineers, medical experts, and designers to develop a low-cost ventilator targeting Brazil and other developing markets. We analyzed the entire experience of using a ventilator and realized that the design is very unintuitive, requiring respiratory specialists to operate the machinery. Guided by WHO’s 4A’s – availability, affordability, adoption, and appropriate use, we developed a ventilator at a cost reduction of approximately 5x the typical cost, using primarily off-the-shelf components, and easily used by any medical professional in only 35 days.


VentFlow was co-designed by a multidisciplinary team in 35 days to create a cheaper and intuitive machine for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Proactive Health

In the past years, mental health awareness has been getting some much needed attention, but the healthcare industry still does not largely embrace this interconnectivity. When designing anything related to healthcare, we must take an experiential approach. How do all elements work together to build a more empathetic environment?

When we designed a new healthcare concept called WeHealth, we interviewed patients, family members, and practitioners to understand their daily experience. Unsurprisingly, the perception was generally negative, associating hospitals and cold, sterile environments that were unwelcoming. These somewhat obvious insights led us to design a health campus that promotes healthy living, providing fitness classes, healthy cafes, and work centers for family members in a hospital.

WeHealth health community

WeHealth is more than a medical center, but rather a health community that provides resources such as food, fitness and nutrition classes, and work spaces, in addition to typical doctor offices.

Mainstream Tools and Technologies

The world is in a state of constant innovation, but often these innovations are costly and reach only top tier markets before slowly, and often ineffectively trickling down. Designers and engineers typically build on what we already know rather than challenging ourselves to find an entirely new approach using existing technologies in new ways, but this can be a barrier for human-centered design.

We collaborated with a health startup called Biologix that sought to redesign the way a polysomnograph (sleeping) test was conducted. These tests are often costly and require the patient to spend a night in the hospital while hooked up to uncomfortable sensors. We helped Biologix develop a platform that allowed patients to test their sleep at home using a connected device that shared the data with their healthcare provider. This drastically reduced costs and increased the amount of tests that were taken due to increased accessibility – all while using readily available technologies in new ways.

biologix healthcare sleep apnea solution

Biologix is currently being reengineered to assist in monitoring low-risk Covid-19 patients by passively monitoring blood oxygen levels while the user is at home.

A Systemic Approach

Questtonó has an ongoing relationship with Raia Drogasil, the largest drugstore chain in Brazil, to help them understand their consumers’ needs on a deeper level, beginning with customers with chronic illnesses. It was important to address that this consumers’ life extends far beyond their diagnosis, which is typically the sole way they are defined. We worked with individuals with chronic illnesses to understand 3 key perspectives related to health: the Ideal, the Real, and the Created.  This helped us understand the functional and emotional needs to create a loyalty program around a larger ecosystem of consumer needs that is transforming Raia Drogasil into a center focused on providing resources centered around healing.

Considered the northstar of our beliefs at Questtonó, approaching problems from a systemic perspective is key to creating lasting change. By working with all key players during the investigation process, unseen opportunities become apparent.


Key Takeaways – Our Core Principles include:

– Making people the focal points by understanding all users as individuals with unique perspectives and life experiences;

– Understanding that ecosystems provide unique and integrated outcomes that are impactful to communities of consumers;

– Business value is only as strong as the customer value.

Systemic innovation in health

Systemic innovation is only possible when all key stakeholders are considered from a humane view.

Want to create impactful experiences with design in healthcare?

By taking a human-centered healthcare approach under a systemic design process, we are able to add value, lower costs, and improve processes. The healthcare industry must address the world’s needs and promote positive transformation that is centered around people rather than business to be truly innovative.

Questtono has over 27 years of experience working in the healthcare industry developing consumer medical devices, prosthetics, surgical equipment, and physical environments to name a few.

Curious to see how we can help? Get in touch with us here.