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We Make Health Fest seeks to inspire innovative approaches to health

Free event Aug. 16 offers chance to see new technology, watch inspiring speakers, screen Maker documentary, and promote participatory design of health

Ann Arbor, Mich. — Anyone can be a “maker” or “designer” of health, creating an innovative solution or approach to keeping the world safer or healthier --- and an event at the University of Michigan Aug. 16 is designed to inspire those ideas.

The We Make Health Fest is scheduled from 10 to 4 p.m. at the Palmer Commons building, 100 Washtenaw in Ann Arbor. Organizers say the event will be a day of collaboration that incorporates health, technology, participatory design and fun activities for the whole family. The event is free but advance registration is encouraged.

“You don’t have to be trained as a “designer” to design,” says U-M’s Joyce Lee, M.D., M.P.H, one of the event organizers and a co-creator of the Healthdesignby.us, a multidisciplinary group of individuals spearheading a movement for patient-centered participatory design from the University of Michigan Schools of Medicine, Art and Design, and Information.

“Design thinking is just a form of problem solving. That’s what patients and caregivers do every day to manage their conditions. We are the experts who understand what the real problems are; therefore we should play a key role in creating the solutions that will keep us and our loved ones healthy.”

The event is modeled after the Maker movement, and the We Make Health Fest organizers have a number of goals with this event:
•    To encourage "design for health" at a grassroots level; anyone should and can think of themselves as designers
•    To learn about new tools and technologies that could be used to promote health (wellness or chronic disease management).
•    To bridge the gap between a technical and design community whose members want to work on health projects but need a health partner, and health partners (patients, caregivers, researchers) who have ideas but need a technical collaborator to bring them to life.

Lee, a pediatric endocrinologist and researcher, and her family have a personal experience in becoming health care designers. Lee’s two children had severe food allergies, and she had just moved -- she needed to educate a school/daycare system about handling the allergies.

The standard form for an allergy action plan was complicated, hard to read and unengaging. Instead, she and her kids designed a short video that became her first prototype of effective participatory design.

“That step of us making the video together was our first foray into participatory design. You don’t need to be a doctor. All you need to do is participate in your healthcare journey, and be a part of thinking about designing a better system that works for you,” says Lee, who is also a member of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

Saturday’s We Make Health Fest will feature two presenters: Jose Gomez Marquez from the Little Devices Lab at MIT, and John Costik, type 1 diabetes hacker, father, community collaborator, and innovator for the #wearenotwaiting movement. In addition there will be presenters and exhibitors from the community sharing their knowledge and showing their creations as makers.

The event also will feature a screening of "Maker,” a feature-length documentary on the Maker Movement and its impact on society, culture and the economy in the United States.

There are so many health challenges crying out for solutions: basic sanitation in many parts of the world, the obesity epidemic, struggles with management of chronic disease. Lee and her organizers hope to tap into the imagination of the public and get the right people talking to each other to make meaningful changes.

As Patricia Anderson, emerging technologies librarian at the University of Michigan and co-collaborator of Fest describes: “You can hack your life and make it better, and you can do it with the help of other people.”

The organizers of the We #makehealth Fest include Matt Kenyon, Patricia Anderson, Emily Hirschfeld, Nancy Benovich Gilby, Scott Olson, Emily Puckett Rodgers, and Sean Doolan. The team encourages to you learn more and join the healthdesignby.us.

About the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital: Since 1903, the University of Michigan has led the way in providing comprehensive, specialized health care for children. From leading-edge heart surgery that's performed in the womb to complete emergency care that's there when you need it, families from all over come to the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital for our pediatric expertise.

More information is available at www.mottchildren.org

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