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Current health-care systems are confronted with progressively complex demands: ageing populations, growing drug ineffectiveness, health mis/disinformation and access to comprehensive services are just a few of the challenges faced today. Design offers methods, practices and processes to help address these challenges. While design and health have a long history of working together, much of this work has been limited. In this article, we make the case for further opportunities for design and health to work together in deep, innovative and human ways. We start by reviewing the transforming space(s) of design, moving on to a discussion of the similarities between healthcare and design. Next, we present three case studies that employ design methods and processes within healthcare settings, exploring new opportunities for synergy. We conclude by summarizing the areas of opportunity uncovered through these case studies, articulating future possibilities for design and healthcare to collaborate.

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No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author(s).

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Notes on contributors

Aidan Rowe

Aidan Rowe is an Associate Professor in Design Studies at the University of Alberta, Canada. His research and practice interests are in design, health, and education. Recent practice-based work explores future design scenarios with a focus on employing participatory design approaches鈥攚orking with people鈥攖o improve healthcare practices, processes, and services. Recent pedagogic work applies design methods and processes to public health and involves the development of curriculum for health students.

Michelle Knox

Michelle Knox is a PhD student in the Department of Medicine鈥攁nd a graduate from the Master of Design program鈥攁t the University of Alberta, Canada. She works at the intersections of health and design, applying user-centred and participatory processes, across the areas of ageing, death, and dying. Her doctoral research focuses on the systems, policy, and service design aspects of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in Canada, with a particular emphasis on health access experiences.

Gillian Harvey

Gillian Harvey is an Assistant Professor in Design Studies at the University of Alberta, Canada, where she teaches design theory, practice, and research. Gillian鈥檚 work as a partner and studio owner over the last 15 years has included a diverse set of private and public sector clients鈥攕panning educators, healthcare professionals, non-profits, and government. Her design work has included educational and social marketing campaigns, data visualization, and the design of complex way finding systems.

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