Design + Health and Medical Innovation Symposium in Kunshan

Image: Professor Daphne Flynn (left) with local industry representatives in health care manufacturing from the Jiangshu Province of China.

Professor Daphne Flynn from Design Health Collab and Ian Wong, Director of the Monash Art, Design and Architecture Industrial Design Centre Kunshan, recently hosted a half-day Symposium established to build understanding and to share ideas and experiences in design for health spaces in China. Local industry representatives in health care manufacturing from the Jiangshu Province of China were invited to attend.

The inaugural program included an exhibition of health care related design translations, a keynote from Flynn, and presentations from Bernie Walsh, lecturer in Industrial Design Southeast University Monash University Joint Graduate School (Suzhou) and medical device manufacturer, VAPO.

An introductory workshop with researchers and twenty-five industry participants was designed to share expertise and insights relating to Design and Health in China and the impacts of technologies such as 5G and AI, food safety and other key health issues.

Everyone recognises that collaboration in medical and health innovation is key for success. This was reinforced at the Symposium by VAPO, a company that manufactures nebulising units for outpatient nebulising wards.

Professor Daphne Flynn

In China, nebulising wards are being established for paediatric patients with asthma and chronic lung diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Patients are often from the regional areas of China and they travel long distances for treatment with their families. They don’t have access to, or can’t afford, hand operated nebulisers and home-based treatment or pharmacy medications. They need to be treated via a medicated nebuliser in a hospital.

VAPO have installed over 2000 units in 200 hospitals across mainland China over the last twelve months and will treat over a quarter of a million people based on daily patient loads. Flynn and Design Health Collab assisted VAPO with design thinking to inform how the VAPO device could be configured.

“We had a two-day engagement to clarify a product specification. Design Health Collab provided insights into understanding users (children, parents and nurses) and stakeholders in the product development process,” says Wong.

Design Health Collab’s work helped to inform the design of a new VAPO vaporiser unit that accommodates the paediatric patient and extended family needs.

“At the workshop, we gave attendees some inspiration in terms of health and technology trends, to trigger conversations about opportunities and needs and how they think this is played out in China,” explains Flynn.

“The Symposium was a great way to connect and share ideas with Chinese manufacturers working in the health sector. In China the lead time from idea to production is much faster. There is not a lot of time for deep design iterations. Just a small amount of design input can inform a pathway to improvement for industries working in the healthcare space in China. VAPO are a good example of this, and they are now very open to talking about next steps,” Flynn says.

“Monash Architecture Industrial Design Centre Kunshan is looking to continue working with Design Health Collab to support further initiatives in healthcare in China. Chinese Government Policy is supportive of innovation in many areas, including healthcare, and there are further opportunities for collaboration,” says Wong.

“Later this year, we plan to introduce renowned Emergency Physician Dr Keith Joe, an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Monash Department of Design, to the industry participants from the Kunshan Symposium, and other Chinese-based industry representatives, where he will discuss potential engagement and the position design can play,” says Flynn.

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