Soumitri in 2016

Design is vehicle for change. A Design Project can be a campaign. In a furiously online world I see design projects as either a first step towards a business venture or a campaign that changes the way people think. Design innovations can change the way we deal with ageing and death. Design projects can change the way the world thinks about issues. Design projects can be about improving the lives of ordinary and marginalised people. Below are some of the areas I am currently interested in/ excited about:
  1. How to die well
  2. Ways of dealing with obesity
  3. Imagining a Future beyond Medicine
  4. Ways of Journalling Pregnancy
  5. Design for people with Locked-in syndrome
  6. Proposing a Bio-Dome (a personal diagnostic ecosystem)
  7. Design for living longer
I live and work in Melbourne. In Melbourne there is a lot of energy these days around imagining a healthy future. I engage with this energy.
  1. My design approach focuses upon proposing a future that contains preferred/ visionary products and services.
  2. I am excited by design projects that focus on the small and big challenges facing humanity.
  3. I see design projects as campaigns and so have developed, and therefore teach, the abilities required to prototype design projects within communities.
  4. My current interest is in innovations in healthcare services, where I focus upon de-medicalising and re-contextualizing normal practices to develop new traditions and artefacts in the areas of:
    1. Mental health
    2. Obesity
    3. Ageing
    4. Death
    5. Diabetes
    6. Maternal health
    7. Hearing loss
    8. (Defines the design theme or discourse)


Diabetes has been around among humans a long time. There are many people around the world who suffer from diabetes – 171 million in 2000 going up to 388 million in 2030. A lot of people work in and specialize in working in the area of diabetes: diabetes for them is a source of employment. This is one aspect of the phenomenon of diabetes and what is worrisome is that a few of these people may be keen to get diabetics become dependent upon them. A doctor may be keen to have the patient dependent upon her, a pharmaceutical company may be keen to have large populations of patients become dependent upon their drug formulation, a product manufacturer may be keen to see diabetics become dependent upon expensive technology and even the diabetics associations have their own notion of the ‘right way’. Many feel this ‘fostering of dependency’ has had a detrimental effect upon the quality of life of diabetics. Some have said that this ‘culture of dependency’ is a recent phenomenon, a fact of modern life where we have grown accustomed to giving ‘experts’ control over our body, our lives.

There exists therefore a Need (!) and something has to be done to improve the situation.

Complex problems such as Diabetes tend to be fuzzy and messy (and confronting). Often these are also contested territories dominated by experts. Designers very often have to hear disparaging comments from experts saying ‘what can YOU do’. This is also what makes this area exciting.

This project – project diabetes – is a space to work, a live project with real people and real outcomes.

A Diabetes Mentor in Your Cell Phone

» A Diabetes Mentor in Your Cell Phone – DiabetesMine: the all things diabetes blog

For most people, the cell phone is one of the only gadgets everyone understands and uses every day. There are several companies that have utilized the wide world of iPhone applications, but new-kid-on-the-diabetes-block WellDoc, a Baltimore-based company, has created a new mobile product designed for any phone, called WellDoc’s Diabetes Manager.

The WellDoc demo (which you can watch here) describes a scenario of John, a type 2 diabetic, and Dr. Smith, an endocrinologist. John has “poorly controlled diabetes,” with an A1C over 9, and only sees Dr. Smith for 15 minutes every few months. (Sound familiar?)

For the patient, the WellDoc Diabetes Manager system acts as a mobile CDE / mom:

– It reminds you when to test
– It receives blood glucose readings from a bluetooth-enabled meter or from manual input
– It analyzes the data and provides real-time feedback
– It provides a food database to prevent over treating hypoglycemia
– It asks questions about what caused low or high blood sugars and suggests areas of needed education
– It alerts when you need to retest

Disease Management for Australia

Patient centered chronic care is a difficult one to set up and negotiate in Australia – a country with universal Medicare. Disease Management here is listed within the state’s agenda – but not separately funded.

Healthways – Investor Relations – News Release

Healthways International, a wholly owned subsidiary of Healthways, Inc. (NASDAQ: HWAY), today announced a five-year agreement to offer comprehensive Health and Care SupportSM solutions to The Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia Limited (HCF), one of the largest private health insurers in Australia with over 1 million members. Healthways has successfully entered markets on three continents in the past 12 months, continuing evidence that the health care and productivity issues faced by U.S. health plans, employers and government payers are global issues.

Through the agreement, Healthways will provide proactive support to HCF members with chronic conditions to help slow the progression of their illness. All HCF members will have access to a comprehensive suite of Internet-based health and wellness resources, including customized health information, health risk assessments, health coaching and online, personal health records. Services will focus on prevention, education, behavior change and evidence-based medicine to drive adherence to proven standards of care, medications and physician care plans.

“This collaboration with Healthways allows HCF to implement best-in-class preventive and care management strategies that will keep our healthy members healthy, while improving health and reducing complications for those members with chronic conditions,” said Terry Smith, HCF Chief Executive Officer.


A report issued by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare further confirms that chronic diseases are a major health concern in Australia, placing great burden on individuals, communities and the health industry. More than one-fifth of hospital stays are due to common chronic disease, and $11 billion in national health expenditures are attributed to chronic disease.2

Diabetes and Interaction Design

I saw charmr (you can say Charmr on youtube to watch the video) by Adaptive Path and was quite intrigued. I have students doing similar projects. This is ‘gadgets that help’.

I am in diabetes for a different reason – I want to change health outcomes for the, say, 40 million Indians and further 40 million chinese. In India and China health outcomes are really bad and amputation is routine. So I have been developing an alternative service model – alternative to the government’s health service model – that marginalizes the doctor and makes a nurse practitioner the primary carer. Then both India and China spend very little money on health care – so the model is user pays. In this sits the need for technology that has very low operating costs. This is the technology agenda.

I describe the above just to check – is anyone interested in this project?

Strengthening the national diabetes care services by enhancing the capacity of health care providers

Capacity Development project. What is the ‘care model’ that the health care providers will be trained in? If this is clinical practice – how does the diabetic benefit – and therefore how will the ‘care’ model be assessed?

India Diabetes Research Foundation :: IDRF-WDF Project

Strengthening the national diabetes care services by enhancing the capacity of health care providers.

From 1st July 2007 to December 2011


Goal: Strengthening the national diabetes care services by enhancing the capacity of service providers – doctors, health educators and other paramedical field staff.

To plan and conduct training workshops for Doctors, Health Educators, and Paramedical personnel from the project states. The participants include staff from Government, NGO and private medical systems.

To support the project states technically in strengthening their diabetes service delivery through trained man power.

To motivate the participants to establish a network of Diabetes Prevention and Management Centers starting with rural areas.

To raise the awareness of all the stakeholders including Policymakers, Health Managers, NGO and general population on prevention of diabetes and its complications.

This may dissipate focused effort on diabetes which is a big problem for India

Rs1,620 crore pilot project to curb diabetes, heart diseases launched – Economy and Politics –

One health activist said the government was trying to pack too much into the programme. A. Ramachandran, president of India Diabetes Research Foundation, called the Rs1,650 crore budget “a drop in the ocean”.

“The government has also diluted the programme by clubbing three diseases together. This may dissipate focused effort on diabetes which is a big problem for India,” he said, adding the US, UK and Australia had dedicated national diabetes programmes.