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Human-Centered Design Thinking in Healthtech

As more health service providers embrace technological tools in delivering service, there is a growing need for factoring in human-centered design when building healthcare systems. When many people hear "design," their minds may immediately go to an aesthetically appealing app user interface or campaign flyers. While these are also important in the general design process, they are only a small part of the whole.

Design for systems involves a multidisciplinary and systemic approach to how products or services are created and delivered as well as their outcomes. If these products or services are made for humans, it is imperative that they be designed in a way that favors human use, hence human-centered design.

So in the case of healthtech, the design of the delivery of a product or service should have humans at the center as they are the primary consumers of healthcare. While the patient is the primary healthcare consumer, the healthcare delivery funnel involves many participants beyond the provider and patients. Other participants such as the front desk staff, patient's relatives, records management staff, cleaning team, and others directly or indirectly involved in delivering healthcare services must also be considered when designing healthcare systems.

Why is Human-Centered Design Important?

Any profit-seeking service-providing company aims to have satisfied clients willing to pay for their services. Incorporating human-centered design into a company's processes gives a competitive advantage as it guarantees that customers are satisfied with the services rendered and are more likely to stay and grow with the company. As a result, the success of healthtech companies going into the future will greatly depend on how well they can prioritize healthcare consumers in their design process, guaranteeing high-quality services that significantly improve health outcomes on a global scale.

Human-centered Design in Healthtech

Major factors drive human-centered design, particularly in healthcare, some of which will be discussed below.

Human Understanding and Empathy

The core of human-centered design lies in understanding user needs, being empathetic about their challenges, and seeking to proffer solutions to them. This is the first step to creating systems that favor healthcare consumers. The stage of understanding and empathizing with the users can sometimes be challenging, as organizations will need to do a lot of research to get accurate data; however, past successes have shown that this step is rewarding in the long run as it helps to increase user satisfaction.

Design teams can employ different models and tools in this stage, but ultimately, they should all be useful in helping them understand their users better.

Systems Thinking

Healthcare provision is typically a multidisciplinary and systemic service, which means that different providers in different fields would often work together to give the patient quality healthcare services. Having this in mind, a human-centered design team in healthtech is expected to test their ideas across board, putting into consideration all the possible providers of service. In essence, a solution created in one discipline should not hamper activities in another, and if it does, the team should provide an adequate buffer to prevent this.

Ideation and Early Testing with Stakeholders

While human-centered designers can implement tools to understand users and create solutions, the practicality of their ideas is best tested in real-life situations. As such, human-centered designers will employ the engagement of end-users and stakeholders early in their ideation and testing phase. This is the stage where site navigation maps, user journeys, wireframes, and prototypes are created. With healthtech companies, this would involve working with healthcare professionals to test the feasibility of their solutions.

Execution and Iteration

Once the goal of creating a feasible solution has been attained, the human-centered design also covers how this solution is deployed and ultimately received by the end-users. It doesn't just end at the provision of the solution; it goes further to understand how the users interact with the solution and possible improvements that can be made. Because the world is fast-paced, with many changes happening almost faster than we can catch up, it is essential that healthtech providers continually collect user feedback and monitor the performance of their solutions in order to make upgrades where necessary.


Human-centered thinking should be the default design method of all healthtech companies looking to scale and create lasting impact. Unlike other industries where humans may not be the primary consumer, healthcare is held together by people in various fields who deserve to be included in the design process.

Written By,

Alabi Oyinkansolami.


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