Professor and Chair, Delft Health Initiative, Delft University of Technology
The challenge of integrating user experience in innovation and design for healthcare
Currently every year professionals in healthcare use tens of thousands of different products, varying from very simple to extreme complex, that are specially designed for them to improve or alleviate their tasks. Also, every year thousands of new medical products enter the market, and existing products change because they were redesigned, restyled or even renewed completely. All products and services have in common that they aim at the improvement of the quality of healthcare. This improvement can vary from safer healthcare, more efficient use of available resources, improvement of the quality of life for patients and their family, improved usability, to better training and introduction of new procedures and techniques.
As happens often with innovations, but especially in the healthcare sector, these innovations lack the input of user experience throughout the design process (for as well healthcare professionals, patients and family) and therefore are more or less isolated efforts of improvement that often show disadvantages once they are implemented. For example, it is well known in the healthcare sector that unnecessary errors with products lead to many casualties in the hospitals each year. Since designers literally play a central role in the process of creating future environments for users, they can be informed by studying key stakeholders including the innovating firms, customers and suppliers, available technology and users’ insight and wishes; the challenge is to guide the field by means of an envisioned future of healthcare based on the above inputs.
Professor Richard Goossens is Chair of the Delft Health Initiative, a campus wide organisation that connects 350 scientists, engineers and designers with a mission to support sustainable healthcare through innovative technological breakthroughs. The educational program also offers over 100 master’s courses in the healthcare domain, educating about 5000 students per year. Professor Goossens also coordinates the Design Innovation for Healthcare Program at the Faculty of Industrial Design, in which human-centred healthcare is the key element and that involves co-creation with patients, medical professionals and non-professional users (family and friends) in many different projects. Connected to that program is the master’s track “Medisign” that has courses to teach design students in Anatomy and Surgical Techniques for Engineers, Rules and Regulations for Designing Medical Devices, eHealth and Tools & Methods from Health Psychology. Since the program was founded, 1000 graduation projects (and counting) in healthcare design were completed by master’s students. Next to that research programs were established, for example, the Surgeons Cockpit that focuses on the quality and patient safety in surgical performance, the Highly Individualised Patient Projects which generate a long-term vision for the future of cure and care for orthopaedic patients, and the Prinses Maxima Centre for Paediatric Oncology which advances the quality of cure and care through design innovation.