Value of Design Award

Alphero 36 Te Whatu Ora (Health NZ) Weaving of wellness

  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Directors
    Matt Harrop, Christine Webb, Steve Smith
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Fraser Malpas, Tyree Gunn, Miro Bzduch, Alexandra Hawkhead
  • Kaitautoko / Contributors
    Madison Treadwell, Arna Cunningham
  • Client
    Te Whatu Ora (Health NZ)

The combination of a global pandemic and the largest health system reform in decades meant the Ministry of Health (Health) needed to deliver a whole raft of human-centred digital products that could reach the entire population of Aotearoa, fast.

Without digital foundations to build from, or permanent in-house design capability, Health relied on design freelancers and contractors, and a variety of external agencies to help them rapidly create essential services like Covid Tracer, Book My Vaccine, My Covid Record, and products like the Vaccine Pass and more.

While this approach allowed for delivery at pace, making significant impact on all of Aotearoa, the same design challenges were being solved over again, in slightly different ways, leading to inconsistent experiences for everyday Kiwis.

To ensure a more consistent customer experience, increase speed to value, and create confidence in quality across all future solutions, Health established its Design Practice and chose one of its partners to help spearhead this mission.

Health found a best-practice partner in the designers of My Health Account and My Covid Record, two applications that met the highest accessibility standards and had enabled the seamless onboarding of millions of people in a matter of weeks. These applications provided exemplars of elegant, effective, and equitable customer experiences.

The team leveraged the patterns and components from these applications to create the foundations for a flexible, brand-agnostic design system. A system that could be implemented across an entire ecosystem of digital products and services. This library was created in Figma using themeable tokens. Designers and developers can access common brands, components, and code to facilitate the creation of new digital experiences.

With the design system already in use by multiple internal and external teams, designers have been able to quickly create new services and get them into the hands of customers for feedback and iteration.

Better still, users of the system can not only draw from it but feedback into it, continually increasing its value and allowing designers to solve both visual and functional challenges, quickly.

This practice has led to not only accelerated speed to value for Health’s current programmes, but in the future could have applications in the wider health sector - allowing other health entities to realise the benefits of consistency and efficiency.

The design system is now an integral part of the design practice, its workflows and governance. Consolidating intellectual property in a manner that simplifies collaboration between Health and its partners, and helps to protect us against risk by retaining design knowledge and centralising and codifying this for new designers.

This collaboration and its design-led approach, has been an enabler for Health to make a major contribution to keeping us safe through Covid-19; and to transform from primarily being a policy organisation to a post-covid provider of effective and impactful digital health services.

Health is now equipped to rapidly expand its offerings, providing kiwis with more digital health services and greater access to their own health information while ensuring quality, consistency, and exceptional user experiences.