The Role of Human‑Centered Design in Healthcare Innovation: a Digital Health Equity Case Study

Publication Year: 2023
Contributing Organisation: Oregon Health & Science University
Authors: Ximena A. Levander, Hans VanDerSchaaf, and Vanessa Guerrero Barragán
Learning Themes: Global Health

Healthcare delivery has become more complicated, particularly with the addition of digital tools and advanced technologies that can further exacerbate existing disparities. New approaches to solve complex, multi-faceted problems are needed. Human-centered design (HCD), also known as design thinking, is an innovative set of methods to develop solutions to these types of issues using collaborative, team-based, and empathetic approaches focused on end user experiences. Originally advanced in technology sectors, HCD has
garnered growing attention in quality improvement, healthcare redesign, and public health and medical education. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our healthcare organization recognized notable differences in utilization of virtual (video-based) services among specific patient populations.
In response, we mobilized, and using HCD, we collectively brainstormed ideas, rapidly developed prototypes, and iteratively adapted solutions to work toward addressing this digital divide and clinic and systems-level struggles with improving and maintaining digital health access. HCD approaches create a cohesive team-based structure that permits the dismantling of organizational hierarchies and departmental silos. Here we share lessons learned on implementing HCD into clinical care settings and how HCD can result in the development of
site-specific, patient-centered innovations to address access disparities and to improve digital health equity

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