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The Human-Centered Health System: Transforming Healthcare with Design

The Human-Centered Health System: Transforming Healthcare with Design

Lenny Naar Andrew Zimmermann Kyra Bobinet Aaron Sklar

This report argues for the need to center patient experience as the ultimate goal of health design and investment and aligning the interests of stakeholders to achieve this goal.

Executive Summary

The field of design spans an array of professional disciplines – from architecture to human factors to visual design – but is underpinned by two core practices: empathy and prototyping. Empathy involves seeing the world through the eyes of the people involved – a patient, clinician, caregiver or other important system stakeholder – to gain a deep understanding of their needs. Prototyping involves rapid iteration processes, which incorporate user feedback to ultimately arrive at a flexible solution.

These practices are the foundation of person-centered design and underpin the three categories of design most applicable to healthcare:

  • Professional design
    Skilled designers with varied expertise work together in teams to create a user-centered experience
  • Co-design
    The practice of partnering with patients in design activities, so that the patient becomes an active part of the design team
  • Design thinking
    A structured approach for people who do not identify as designers to focus on their users, gain insight from a completely different perspective and address insights with creativity.

Healthcare providers and policymakers can employ these tools to design a human-centered health system, ensuring that people are the focal point of all care solutions. Human-centered, or patient-centered, care is increasingly viewed as an essential element of high-quality care. This model results in engaged patients and carers, leading to greater satisfaction, outcomes, and efficient resource allocation.

This report sets out a plan of action, supported by successful case examples, for healthcare leaders to embed design principles to support a human-centered health system.