Design for Health

Everyday we solve problems, and at our workplace we solve our patients' problems.

To structure our thinking process, we can use design thinking. 

Design thinking can be a powerful methodology, making projects more successful.

How to use design thinking for our patients and for health?

Applying design thinking to the field of health does not mean to change everything. Illustrated at the example of a health care provider (in the role of a physiotherapist), and a public health professional, you will see how both disciplines already routinely make use of the core design thinking phases Inspiration, Ideation and Implementation. 


Public Health Professional

To understand the patient's problem, we do a clinical examination. We do an anamnesis from a biopsychosocial perspective and test our hypothesis with evidence-based tests. We try to have empathy with the patient.


To understand the population's need for healthcare and to maximise people's access to health care services, we rely on research, using quantitative and qualitative research methods.

We run an evidence-based test treatment and evaluate its success. According to the patient's reaction, we adjust our treatment or try new methods. 


We develop an intervention and test it in a small scale. We evaluate its success and effectiveness. 

In accordance with the patient we develop a treatment strategy. The patient gets exercises for "homework" and to ensure he/she is actually following it, we aim for a good compliance with the strategy.


We present our intervention to other organisations, politics and funders. We report about our intervention and inform the public. If successful, we scale the intervention up.

With design thinking we reframe our doing and new possibilities open up.

First, utilising a consistent vocabulary for our actions allows an easier communication within and beyond our profession. Second, both health care practitioners and public health professionals profit in their individual work. To give one example for physiotherapy, illustrating the therapy process using design makes it more understandable for the patient, which is key for salutogenesis. To give another example for public health, looping, iterating and prototyping an intervention until the users are satisfied, protects not only vulnerable populations but also reduces the implementation gap and decrease health expenditures. How might be reduce obesity? - This is a challenge physiotherapist and public health professionals can work together on and use human-centered design.

Grapefruit and Vitamins

 Empower people

Woman sight testing

Consider different perspectives


Brainstorm together

Global Health

"Several recognised experts in the fields of design and health have advocated for an increased crossover between the fields and described the potential role of social innovation to improve population level health outcomes." (Bazzano et al, 2017)


The literature lacks a common framework for Global Health, thus it is also described as a "bunch of problems" (Kleinman, 2010). However, there are collective aims - The Sustainable Development Goals. If we want to approach these goals, we need innovative solutions and global commitment. To get as many people as possible involved, good communication is essential, not only about the goals but also between the people. Human centred design is one way (of course not the only) to empower people to tackle problems, in their community and in collaboration with other people worldwide. Creating value for others and actively steering a project, people are more motivated than in the passenger role. This way, more people become drivers for Global Health. 

who are you_2.png