Healthcare Research Space

How can designers work with patients and medical professionals to meet healthcare challenges for the 21st century?

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The Healthcare Space specialises in how healthcare is delivered. With developments in technology and life sciences, as well as a changing demographic and political landscape, healthcare is ever evolving. Our vision is to ensure that the people receiving the care are at the heart of the design and development process. This aim of humanising healthcare is central to our current projects, and informing the exciting work of the space in the coming years.

Each project involves the development of new and pioneering ways of working with patients, staff, clinical researchers and other stakeholders during both the design and research process. We continually refine our methodologies to give rich insights into peoples’ lived experience. 

The expertise in the Healthcare Research Space continues to grow. We have our sights set on future challenges. One key area (and a priority for Research Councils internationally) is the troubling rise in Antimicrobial Resistance. The Centre will shortly be undertaking a three-year landmark project with UCL, looking at how Inclusive Design might be key in influencing prescribing behaviours, and ultimately in reducing this threat. 

Current research questions

  • What is the form of a healthcare system that sustainably and affordably provides the highest levels of clinical effectiveness, patient experience and safety?
  • What are the types and sources of medical error, where do they occur and how can they be prioritised and understood in order to reduce their impact through design?
  • What role can design of products, systems and campaigns play in addressing current and anticipated healthcare challenges, such as the ageing demographic, overstretched healthcare budgets, emerging but expensive treatment technologies, and increasing prevalence of obesity, diabetes and dementia, whilst championing safety, dignity and the patient experience?
  • What are the human factors beyond research that influence the successful adoption of healthcare design solutions?


A core focus of project work at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design has been on practical exemplars to demonstrate how design can be successfully used to enhance patient safety and improve patient outcomes. Evidence-based medicine is a cornerstone of modern healthcare and our goal is to develop the methodologies and knowledge base to underpin an equivalent approach to design in healthcare. In meeting this challenge we are working in five broad areas, in collaboration with the NHS, leading research institutions, industry and voluntary sector organisations.

Projects are divided into three themes:

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