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Industry Snapshot: Human-Centered Healthcare

October 18, 2021
Human-Centered Healthcare Design


As the pandemic slows, the healthcare industry continues to grow at a rapid rate, with an estimated 11.9 million jobs to be added before 2030. With this growth comes a pressing need to re-evaluate the healthcare system - everything from the layout of the operating room to the "byzantine" process of scheduling a test. That's where human-centered healthcare designers come in.

What is Human-Centered Healthcare Design?

According to this journal article from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, "Human-centered design is about understanding human needs and how design can respond to these needs." In healthcare, this means understanding  patients' needs and the obstacles they may face when seeking treatment - from the first office phone call to the last follow-up appointment. Combining concepts from the fields of service design, user experience, and design thinking, the goal of human-centered healthcare methodologies is to create an entirely new approach to the healthcare experience.

Human-Centered Healthcare at Parsons

As long as there are healthcare systems, there will be a need for healthcare designers. This type of career is ideal for anyone interested in the intersection of design and healthcare. Whether you're a hospital administrator, clinician, or UX designer, our Human-Centered Healthcare certificate will allow you to delve deeper into this emerging field.

Patricia Beirne, Program Coordinator of the online Human-Centered Healthcare Certificate at Parsons, and Creative Lead for the Design & Innovation group of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center said, "Design thinking facilitates a human-centered approach to how we understand the patient and family experience and allows us to shape experiences that alleviate anxiety and restore dignity in as many interactions as possible. Dignity is important to patients and design is a good way to understand and deliver that otherwise intangible quality of care."

A recent student in our Human-Centered Healthcare certificate, Tiina Hahto, noted how the concepts and methods from the courses can fix flawed systems in both the U.S. and her native Finland. "When we have to buy something from the private sector, we figure out—with service design methods—what we should require from the service provider to make the service better for customers. Those customer insights can be applied in the private sector as well as in our own services," Hahto said. "Service design is still quite new to the public sector in Finland... However, when you’re still working within those limits, and the effect is good, you can affect all citizens of Helsinki."

Take a look at the cities across the U.S. where the demand for healthcare professionals is the highest.

Top U.S. Locations In Need of Healthcare Professionals

  • New York, NY

  • Phoenix, AZ

  • Pittsburgh, PA

  • Allentown, PA

  • Chicago, IL

  • Austin, TX

  • Cookeville, TN

  • Lynchburg, VA

  • San Antonio, TX

  • Albuquerque, NM

(Source: EMSI)

Build Your Skills

Practitioners working in a healthcare setting who want systems-focused, design-driven tools for improving service delivery  and creatives seeking new skills in user-based research, design, and innovation can put human-centered healthcare design methods into action.

The online Human-Centered Healthcare certificate consists of three courses. Students are advised to complete the program in the following sequence:

These courses teach students to use storytelling, empathy, and design thinking to develop their own strategies to transform the healthcare experience for physicians, administrators, staff, and patients, and make a lasting impact on the world around them.

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