The 'State of the Art' of Design Theory and Practice in Healthcare

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The 'State of the Art' of Design Theory and Practice in Healthcare

the state of the art of design theory and practice in healthcare

Research Centre
Art and Design Research Centre


Innovation in healthcare

In recent years there has been growing interest in the potential of design approaches to transform health care.

There are many drivers for Health service reform; a rise of long term conditions, an aging population, a health service that has evolved to deliver acute care rather than primary care, reduced funding and increasing expectations from an increasingly informed population. These are some of the key challenges to society today, and ones that require a new way of thinking, a radical step change in the ways we deliver care, innovative approaches. Having said this, health service provision, or even more person-centred issues around health, are by definition ‘wicked problems’, ones that there is no single correct response too. 

This is where we argue design’s strength lies, where we can draw on a tradition of creative and divergent thinking to address these fundamental and yet practical challenges to our society’s health. Design in Health is an emergent theme in Design, one where there is activity across key institutions in the UK but where currently there is no one network to consolidate and share the best practice experience and research. This network led by Paul Chamberlain builds on links forged through the Design4Health conferences (2011, 2013) at which a critical mass of practitioners from Design and Health have come together to discuss and debate these issues. The network allows leading practitioners and researchers to creatively explore the ‘State of the Art’ of design in health informed by a rigorous literature review of published and unpublished work.

At the moment Design is synonymous with Innovation in health care. We need to ensure that as designers we are able to evidence the activity that has led to this position, and work with the leading practitioners and researchers in the field to ensure that we consolidate and strengthen the evidence around the impact of design has on health innovation.

The ability to bring together such a multi-disciplinary group of experts around an emergent topic with a new review of activity is a unique opportunity to capture a moment in time for a discipline. It will provide the basis for Design to articulate its potential contribution to healthcare in a language that healthcare understands and allows cross institutional and disciplinary discourse.

In line with the AHRC’s call we believe that the role of Design in service innovation (in health) is of national strategic importance. The evidence for the impact of Design in healthcare is one area identified at the Design4Health conference as requiring specific attention, this will allow evidence to be benchmarked and developed to inform future work in this exciting field. Read the full research report on SHURA.

Network Partners

Royal College of Art
Glasgow School of Art
Coventry University

Researchers Involved

Professor Paul Chamberlain - Co-Director C3RI, Head of Art and Design Research Centre, Director of Lab4Living and Director of Design Futures
Dr Claire Craig - Co-Director, Lab4Living, Senior Lecturer Occupational Therapy
Matt Dexter - Research Associate
Dr Joseph Langley - Senior Research Fellow, Lab4Living
Daniel Wolstenholme - Associate, Lab4Living

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