Universal design for health and welfare


In this keynote universal design was introduced and arguments for why universal design (UD) is an important strategy in the development of digital healthcare systems were discussed. It is expected that e-health technologies can improve healthcare services in various ways, by improving prevention, self-management, patient participation and education. Stakeholders and policy makers envisage that these technologies will have a huge potential to meet the changing demographics leading to ageing populations and, thus, more people with chronic diseases and disabilities. However, the uptake seems to be slow. UD is about embracing diversity and addressing the needs of all age groups and persons with different abilities, resulting in inclusive systems. UD should be based on a human-centred and participatory design process, involving a broad range of stakeholders in design and evaluation activities. One should not interpret UD as a "one size fits all” approach, but rather as a strategy towards building flexibility into a system so that it can accommodate diverse needs and support autonomy and wellbeing. The UD approach was illustrated by examples from various projects interlinking concepts such as self-management and health literacy. The keynote concluded by pointing out directions for future research.