New solutions: “How Might We” work with asthma problems

I usually write my post titles first. And in this one, work with was very intentional wording. How might we work with asthma problems? If we are working against a problem, it is a barrier. It still may be solved, but working with something, to me, means we see it as an obstacle that we will overcome.

How might we… is the big phrase you will hear at design firm IDEO. Not how can we, but how might we. This is a big difference—there are no confines to might. No possible solution is off limits, or impossible. A design problem is presented to be solved, and IDEO’s endless supply of Post-It Notes appear. Designers play with the ideas: they are at work, but they work via play. Themes develop, and sometimes, this is how solutions begin being developed, with Post-Its being rearranged on large walls.

Sometimes, I find myself being stopped by “asthma problems”. Pressurized metered dose inhalers have not changed since their development in 19551. And, for the most part, their dry powder counterparts are of equal size, and—as Dia pointed out at the MedicineX IDEO Design Challenge in September—they do not all work for all patients, based on a lot of different reasons.

My typical response is to quit using an inhaler that does not have a design that works for me. This, really, seems like the only option, right? I don’t use a spacer most of the time when I am out of the house because they are not small, and do not fit in my pocket (not even the Pocket Chamber which I paid for and then within a few days was washing and shipping off to a friend in Pennsylvania because it was not a good fit for me). I will briefly complain about the scenario that does not work for me, and then remove it from my life as best I can. This is a method of problem-solving… but it is not creative problem solving. It does not change the experience of the problem, just removes it from our lives.

I’m not a designer, and I’ve now learned I don’t have to be one to create better solutions. We are all designers when we create home-grown solutions to our healthcare problems. We have to leverage one another to create the solutions that we need.

How might we… build a design-focused community for asthma?
How might we… stop accepting good enough and strive to innovate for a better experience with asthma?
How might we… change the experience of using an inhaler for asthma?
How might we… change the stigma of using an inhaler in public?
How might we…

How might we build a design-focused community for asthma?It’s our turn. How might we change the world of asthma?

Here is a challenge for us, Asthma.Net community. Pick one of these questions and paste it in the top of a comment. Brainstorm every possible solution you can, and hit submit. If you are partial to post it notes, use this method, and snap a picture of your wall and include a link with your comment. Nothing is off limits. Let’s watch patterns emerge, and start thinking differently about our asthma problems, to create asthma solutions.

Here’s mine for “How might we build a design-focused community for asthma?” to start you off.

Dream big—let’s see what you come up with.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
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