Episode 38

Daniel Burka and the Simple project, from Resolve to Save Lives


March 21st, 2023

30 mins 14 secs

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Special Guest

About this Episode


Daniel Burka


Memo Esparza | Django Skorupa

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain Open Source Design! The podcast where we talk about sustaining open source with design. Learn how we, as designers, interface with open source in a sustainable way, how we integrate into different communities, and how we as coders, work with other designers. Today, we have an amazing guest joining us, Daniel Burka, who’s a product manager and designer who focuses on solving complex global health problems in simple ways. Currently, he’s the director of product and design at Resolve to Save Lives, where he leads the open source project, Simple. Simple is used by thousands of hospitals in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Ethiopia to manage over 3.2 million patients with hypertension and diabetes. He’s also on the board of Laboratoria, and Founded the open source project Health icons, to provide free icons to healthcare projects around the world. Daniel started his career with a design agency but switched his focus towards global health. We’ll hear all the cool things he’s doing with the Simple project, he details how design really matters in public health projects, and how he thinks of design. We end with an extraordinary sentiment from Daniel saying, “Design is a big tent, and we need to welcome more people into that tent.” Find out why he said this and much more. Press download now!

[00:01:30] Daniel tells us what he’s currently doing right now with the Simple project.

[00:02:48] Since Daniel is shifting his focus towards healthcare, we hear how that happened.

[00:06:21] How did Daniel go about integrating the field with the design aspect when he was approaching a problem like Simple?

[00:12:12] We hear about the intersection and how the intersection functions between paper and digital.

[00:13:55] How can you be a designer without relying so much of your work on technology?

[00:17:22] Django shines some light on the idea of the service of a designer, and he asks Daniel to tell us what the majority of his design process involves in his work.

[00:20:06] Memo shares his thoughts on how only a few designers can work on problems that Daniel is working on, and he wonders how we can make working in healthcare more universal and access of the design work more universal.

[00:29:50] Find out where you can follow Daniel on the web.


[00:04:46] “The challenge with venture capital, it’s very cushy, but none of the problems are your problems.”

[00:07:06] “The first thing you notice is that healthcare workers have almost no time.”

[00:10:06] “I was in Switzerland to speak at a conference, and the title of the talk was, “Can Designers Save Lives? Not By Themselves.”

[00:12:19] “Technologists love to think that we should digitize everything. Paper is great!”

[00:15:16] “Another thing that’s really important is to think about who sets the requirements for a system.”

[00:18:08] “A lot of design is talking.”

[00:18:22] “Designers love coming in with solutions, but oftentimes, especially in healthcare, you’re designing for an audience who’s very unlike you.”

[00:18:46] “I like that designers can be shepherds of those kinds of stories and connect the decision makers to healthcare workers who literally work for those decision makers.”

[00:19:09] “One of the superpowers of design is to make potential futures appear real.”


  • [00:26:49] Django’s spotlight is nappy.co.
  • [00:27:54] Daniel’s spotlight is the book, Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling.
  • [00:29:14] Memo’s spotlight is The New Ways of Working Playbook by Mark Eddleston.