Empathic Autonomy

Personalizing healthcare in the digital age

Healthcare today is experiencing a major crisis of cost and quality of care. Patients feel inadequately cared for, uninformed about procedures and costs, and unable to control their situation. Healthcare providers are increasingly spread too thin and often feel that they spend more time on paperwork than helping patients. Solutions to problems in the healthcare space draw on many disciplines; however, our belief is that design is fundamental to providing creative, sustainable solutions to healthcare today. Using a design thinking process, students and researchers will seek to understand the underlying problems of care through a combination of fieldwork and literature review across disciplines.

Empathy and perspective-building for all stakeholders is the cornerstone of our human-centered healthcare focus. Though patients and healthcare providers are often the main focus, families and communities are central to the efficacy of care. Prevention and wellness must be considered in order to keep patients healthy in the first place.

New technologies offer new opportunities to improve human-centered healthcare while keeping costs reasonable. Advances in Artificial Intelligence can enable new software platforms for connecting patients and doctors. Automation and Robotics provide new opportunities for remote healthcare and for increasing the efficiency of care. However, these technologies must be combined with empathy and understanding of users and interaction design. In addition, issues of privacy and dignity are important.

This theme will develop new products and services in the space of human-centered healthcare, drawing on experts from around Stanford’s campus. We will work with partners in Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, Public Policy, and Medicine. Industrial partnerships will allow for real-world deployments of prototypes and offer possibilities for fast-track implementation.