Five design principles to make impact with your health & well-being business model.

Before you design a new business model that contributes to the future of health & well-being, you need a better understanding of where you are going. What is your north star? What is the positive impact that you want to create? How do you envision to make a difference for individuals and society? 

Dream big.

Starting with your future vision forces you to think beyond current business models. It fuels creativity and the design of new ways to create, deliver, and capture value. Our dream for the future? Moving from the current reactive treatment-based to a pro-active, life-basedsystem for health and well-being. A holistic system that aims to empower people throughout their entire lives. Putting the human being at the centre again. We could talk about this all day, but let’s continue with this short version.  

From dream to reality. 

So how do we bring (y)our vision to life? Defining so-called design principles ensure you design a great business from the start. Design principles are guidelines that drive your business model designs. They help you stay focused on making your contribution to the future health and well-being system reality. To make design principles more practical, we showcase how some businesses have applied those principles, enabling them to create true impact.  So here we go.  

1. Design with the patient or user.

We are pretty serious about this. Patients or users are an important stakeholder but are often missing a seat at the table. Understand who you are creating value for. It helps you to focus on the needs of people – healthy or sick - first, and other stakeholders second. Involving them should be a continuous process. By building a life-long relationship, you can easily do this and keep learning and adjusting to their needs.  

sleeping baby design principles


Somnox, developers of a ‘sleeping robot’, kept consumers close during the whole design process. And they still do, to improve the value of their product and services. It has almost become a community of users to continuously validate their ideas, to get a product that best fit the lives of their users.    

Workit Health.

Workit Health created the world's first hybrid addiction care program. From prevention to intervention, and medication-assisted treatment. They do so with a patients-as-designers approach, and are backed by experts. 

2. Design to prevent, not only cure and care.

Here is your chance to be radically different. Put a healthy lifestyle first, and design your business model around that. This change is highly needed to remove perverse incentives from the healthcare system. In the current system, revenue is only generated when people fall ill and are ill. It would be a very good thing if healthcare professionals get paid for prescribing things that keep us healthy. 


Fitbit stimulates people to live a healthier and happier life. They set up engaging programs that stimulate different communities. Think of employees, seniors, students and gamers that can work on their physical, mental and social health – and make it fun to do it daily. 


Headspace designs to make mental health beneficial to as many people as possible. By making meditation easy, fun and relevant, they help their users to unwind from daily stress and keep them mentally healthy. By partnering by Microsoft for example, they remind consumers to plan a moment for themselves during a workday when they read their Outlook e-mail. 


3. Design for collaboration.

When designing for holistic health, it is impossible to do so from just one perspective. Collaboration is key to bring in all perspectives and see the full picture, the whole person or even an entire population. Look for partners and synergies beyond traditional boundaries and bundle your powers. Embed collaboration into your business model. More collaboration, more value.

At the forefront with...

  • Dutch insurance company a.s.r. partnered up with Vitality Group, to offer vitality programs that keep people healthy and vital. They brought together their backgrounds in behavior science and health insurance, to design a concept that aims for sustainable employability. This ‘shared value’ concept benefits not only the customers - who live vital and healthier lives and get rewarded for it – but all a.s.r. stakeholders, by decreasing claims and keeping premiums affordable. 

  • In 2018, Dutch blood bank Sanquin had a database of 321.000 donors, mainly woman with an average age of 43. How could they attract more young people? They used platforms like Instagram and tapped into a community of young people, relatively educated and involved in social causes: the e-gamers of League of Legends. Sanquin’s creative collaboration with esports marketing company 2Basic and the Riot Games, developer of the game, turned the ‘first blood’ game element into a viral on- and offline #myfirstblood movement. Resulting in 7.400 new young blood donors in the Netherlands, raised awareness and replication of the creative blood donor concept in other countries. 

4. Design for accessibility.

With the challenges that our healthcare system is facing, we see accessibility to the same high-quality care is losing. Healthcare services should not be available based on income level or any other factor. The latest innovations in healthcare should be made available to all. Think about accessibility when designing your business model to contribute to making health a fundamental right for everyone.  

At the forefront with...
  • Glow Inc. takes accessibility to the next level. On the one hand, they help their users to get more control over their family planning. With 4 apps they provide access to women and their partners to a community and self-learning data platform that supports them in their sexual life, getting pregnant, preparing for giving birth and taking care of their newborn. On the other hand, this community of users that can take charge of their own body and well-being, on their turn empower other women by funding IVF treatments to those who need it. Glow Inc. increases accessibility to this expensive healthcare service with their fertility program. 

  • Cipla has played an important role in fighting AIDS, offering Doctors without Borders an AIDS cocktail for only $350 per year per patient, with an agreement to distribute it to patients for free. Employing Cipla’s values, company leaders believed providing medicine to those in need was more important than making money. This also forced the hands of other pharmaceutical companies to reduce their own prices. 

"If you design your business with positive impact, you do not have to trade-off doing good and doing well."

5. Design for people, planet, and profit.

These days, any business is being watched on the negative impact they have on natural ecosystems and our living environment. So, businesses in the health & well-being are also under pressure to turn around. Businesses with a triple bottom line, generating a positive impact for people, planet and profit at the same time, are the businesses of the future. If you design your business with positive impact, you do not have to trade-off doing good and doing well.

At the forefront with...
  • Owen Mumford, a global leader on medical devices, recognized the enormous impact the healthcare sector has on the environment. They see recycling and reuse are a challenge in this sector where contamination control is crucial. Ambitious goals in minimizing their manufacturing and supply chain impact were reached by adapting their energy usage and sources, managing waste and assessing their impact in the bigger value chain. The journey of becoming and maintaining the status of a B Corp motivated them to continuously raise the bar and adapt a different mindset. 

  • Genuine Health is a Canadian company that develops research-based natural health supplements to nourish the body. They are just as proud of what they put in their bottles - the highest quality nutritional supplements – as they are on the way they treat the planet and people. Stewart Brown, the founder, has the vision of “leaving the planet better than coming in”. They aim to help people make the best choices for their vitality, health and well-being. Genuine Health also gives back to people in need through charitable organizations and direct community action.  

We get inspired by those frontrunners that show you can do well by doing good. Don't you? When you look closely, you see a glimpse of what the future of health & well-being holds. 

We are curious. With your vision and these design principles, what does your new business model in health & well-being look like? How does it contribute to the future healthcare system? 

Hester Francken
Business designer Amsterdam

Hester Francken

Create impact, challenger, explore the unknown, connect people & dots, early bird, consumer psychology, dancing in the kitchen, let’s go on an adventure! sucker for nature, living with the glass half full.

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