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Access to Healthcare in New York City

Format: Maps & Exhibits, RSD10, Topic: Health & Well-being

Thien Le, Catherine Liu, Gia Marino, and Karan Shah

Carnegie Mellon University, US

Access to healthcare is an issue many residents face in New York. For instance, people living in poverty lack the time and financial ability to seek health care [1], and boroughs with large communities of colour are systematically denied healthcare resources [2]. To better understand this wicked problem, we created a systems map highlighting key factors and showing their interconnected relationships. Using this information, we also proposed a set of interventions across different leverage points. Our process began by creating a mess map with relevant research and information, eventually organizing the information into four main sections: mismanagement of healthcare resources, lack of access to information, inequality, and laws and regulations. We also categorized each piece of information using a STEEP analysis (Social, Technological, Economic, Ecological, Political), which helped pinpoint important leverage points. Our research showed that the healthcare system should be efficient and have enjoyable interactions between humans and the system. Designers can play a role by combining research, design methodologies, and collaboration skills to reimagine how people interact with healthcare. As such, our interventions rely heavily on human-centred design and focus on creating a system that changes people’s views of healthcare.

Reading access healthcare NYC

The map is divided into four sections representing the four main issues: inequality, laws and regulations, mismanagement of resources, and access to information. Individual nodes spread outwards from an individual to a national scale, representing different groups of stakeholders. Highlighted nodes have numbers that correspond to relevant points of intervention. We have identified five interventions that build off each other and are organized by leverage points that have varying levels of effectiveness. All five are identified in the map, from micro-scale targeting neighbourhoods in need to a macro-scale change in values.

Map: Access to Healthcare in New York

access to healthcare map


[1] Seervai, S. (2019, April 19). It’s harder for people living in poverty to get health care. Commonwealth Fund.

[2] Teirlincnk, B. (2020). Access to health care in NYC: Borough Inequality + the Pandemic Effect. NYCEDC.




Citation Data

Author(s): Designers can play a role in access to healthcare by combining research, design methodologies, and collaboration skills to reimagine how people interact with the system.
Title: Access to Healthcare in New York City
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 1 September 2021
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