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Each of our lives is a story. Let’s re-imagine how we prepare for, share and live through the final chapter.“...I am asking that we make space – physical, psychic room, to allow life to play itself all the way out – so that rather than just getting out of the way, aging and dying can become a process of crescendo through to the end.”
BJ Miller 

Each of our lives is a story. As we plan for its final chapter, we have the opportunity to incorporate our passions, relationships, and spirituality to make dying better. How might we make this process more human-centered so we can live fully until the very end? Let’s re-imagine how we prepare for, share and live through the final chapter of our story.

Read the full brief for more information on the focus of this challenge.

The Topic

Each year around 55 million people  worldwide and over 2.5 million in the United States face the end-of-life. In the U.S., the end-of-life experience has shifted dramatically since the 1950s, as death has moved away from the home into institutions like hospitals and nursing homes.  By the 1980s, less than 17% of people died at home. We believe the people and unmet needs behind these numbers inspire a huge opportunity for design.

With your help during our End of Life Challenge, we’ll work to reimagine the end-of-life experience for ourselves and our loved ones.

The OpenIDEO Challenge Process

We're calling a global community to action – to share your stories and reflections, emotions, spiritual perspectives, and other personal contributions related to dying during our Inspiration phase. Then – collaboratively during our Ideas phase – we’ll create solutions that reimagine the end of life experience.

With help from our challenge sponsors and Advisory Panel, we’ll create a shortlist of submitted ideas that will move into our Refinement phase. During the Refinement phase all ideas are encouraged to continue progressing, while the shortlist represents ideas that are most active and aligned with our Evaluation Criteria.

After an iterative Refinement phase we’ll announce the Challenge Top Ideas - a set of solutions that represent innovation in the space.

Goals for the challenge

OpenIDEO has partnered with Sutter Health and The Helix Centre to reimagine the end of life experience. All the stakeholders in this challenge are eager to see the radical conversations and unexpected collaborations that come from this effort. Opening this topic to a global community with different experiences, cultures, and areas of expertise holds unseen potential and rich learning opportunities that we’re excited to learn from.

Ideally this challenge will yield tangible solutions that Sutter Health, The Helix Centre or other organizations can support or integrate into their business. As the challenge unfolds we'll share more about our goals so you know where we're headed. As always, we encourage everyone to take your ideas forward and implement them in your own communities. On OpenIDEO we strive to be a place where good ideas gain momentum – both from the community and from our sponsors and partners. For more information check out our Guiding Principles for tips on how our community collaborates.

Who’s Participating

This topic, more than any other, knows no boundaries. If we haven’t yet been close to a dying experience, we will personally experience it someday. Tell us about your own experience with death and dying and talk to others who have experience with it. Being in closer relationship with our mortality may have surprising effects on our lives today.

During this OpenIDEO challenge, we’re engaging unique perspectives and community leaders to strengthen conversations and ideas:

  • Community Advisors will offer their perspectives in comments throughout the challenge. This group of community members includes a Registered Nurse, an international public health expert, a Hospice volunteer, a breast cancer survivor and school counselor, an emergency room doctor, and other unique perspectives that will help shape our conversations.
  • Community Ambassadors will help boost the reach of the challenge by identifying those currently working in the space and leveraging their own reach.
  • Our Community Activator, Jim, will be inspiring us through interviews and provocative posts.
  • Cross-pollinators Aaron and Mansi will be working to build connections between like-minded conversations and people.
  • We’ll be bringing in Community Prototypers toward the end of our Ideas phase to propel ideas forward with series of small tests.

In addition to these leadership roles, we’ll turn to you – our global community – to offer your experiences that will help develop groundbreaking ideas.

Evaluation Criteria

Our evaluation criterium come from themes that emerged during discussions with our challenge sponsors and Advisory Panel. We’re excited to see these themes represented in the ideas posted during the Ideas phase and ultimately in our Top Ideas. We’re looking for ideas that might…

  • Reimagine dying. Creating an end of life experience that is meaningful is at the heart of this challenge. How does your idea ignite the life still present? We’re excited to help you embrace your creative instincts to create fresh solutions on this topic.
  • Go beyond tradition. We’re aiming for ideas beyond the fearful or stifling images often associated with death. Are there ways to preserve and honor cultural traditions while being modern and fresh? How might we seek inspiration from outside our own backyards?
  • Are uplifting and unique. While the issue is serious, we all want to have a smile on our face at the end of the day or the end of our life. Solutions might reflect the lightheartedness and humor that we hold dear.
  • Consider partnerships. We’re looking for ideas that have an understanding of who is best equipped for different parts of the dying process. This topic is a societal need – the healthcare system cannot solve it alone. Who needs to be involved in order to truly reimagine the end-of-life experience?
  • Are human-centered. This is at the heart of OpenIDEO’s approach. Lead with empathy by talking to potential end users, developing prototypes and collecting feedback from those you’re designing for.

About our Advisory Panel

We have a group of inspiring leaders in this space who will share insights during key points in the challenge process. Our Advisory Panel includes:

  • BJ MILLER, MD, Senior Director and Advocate, Zen Hospice Project
  • PAUL BENNETT, Chief Creative Officer, IDEO
  • RACHELLE BERNACKI, MD, MS, Associate Director of the Serious Illness Care Program at Ariadne Labs
  • JUDY THOMAS, JD, CEO Coalition for Compassionate Care of California
  • MICHAEL W. RABOW, MD, University of California, San Francisco
  • KATY BUTLER, Journalist and Author, Knocking on Heaven's Door: the Path to a Better Way of Death
  • ALEXANDRA DRANE , Co-Founder and Chair, Eliza Corporation; Co-Founder, Engage with Grace
  • CHRISTIAN SINCLAIR, MD, President of AAHPM, Editor of Pallimed
  • ANTHONY BACK, MD, University of Washington, Co-founder VitalTalk
  • STACEY TINIANOV, Patient advocate, cancer survivor
  • WILLIAM HIRSCH, JD, MA, Plaintiffs’ Class Action Attorney and Documentary Film Producer
  • LUCY KALANITHI, MD, FACP, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, Stanford School of Medicine
  • LAVERA CRAWLEY, MD, MPH, MDiv(Eq), Palliative Care Chaplain
  • PEGGY MAGUIRE, President & Board Chair, Cambia Health Foundation
  • MARCUS OSBORNE, VP Health & Wellness, Walmart
  • KEN ROSENFELD, MD, Palliative care physician

About our Sponsors

Sutter Health

Serving patients and their families in more than 100 Northern California cities and towns, Sutter Health doctors, not-for-profit hospitals and other healthcare service providers share resources and expertise to advance health care quality and access. Sutter Health provides a range of palliative care and end of life care including inpatient palliative care and hospice services. Sutter Health’s Advanced Illness Management (AIM) and Palliative Care Support and Services are two nationally recognized innovations serving persons with advancing illness.
For more information about the not-for-profit Sutter Health network visit: | | |

Ungerleider Palliative Care Education Fund

Based in San Francisco, the Ungerleider Palliative Care Education Fund supports innovative programs that further palliative care education at every level. In collaboration with the California Pacific Medical Center Foundation, the Ungerleider Fund initiated a comprehensive education program to enhance medical training around advanced illness and end of life care, physician communication and wellness for healthcare providers at Sutter Health’s California Pacific Medical Center. For more information visit:

HELIX Centre

HELIX is a design studio embedded in a busy teaching hospital in London backed by two of the UK’s leading universities. HELIX work on a wide range of healthcare innovations for the NHS and beyond. Amongst other projects, they have a long term focus on improving the way we experience end-of-life care.


Want to help us start a movement around this topic? Email us at

This challenge is now over.
361 contributions
298 ideas
298 final ideas
50 final ideas
50 final ideas