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Design Approaches to Improve Healthcare and Address Inequalities

Research output: Exhibits, objects and web-based outputsBlog

Publication date13/11/2023
Place of PublicationOnline
PublisherHealth Innovation East
Medium of outputOnline
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Design is much more than making things look good. Design has been described as what happens when people use creativity to solve problems. When people think about design, they often think about traditional applications, such as communications, products and buildings, but it is increasingly used by the government, the NHS and organisations to rethink and help shape services, systems and policies. In health and care settings, amidst a wide range of complex challenges, design approaches can help create new partnerships, develop new ways of doing things and bring together people who would not normally collaborate, to generate new ideas. The process is often referred to as ‘co-design’. In 2022, NHS England published statutory guidance for working in partnership with people that recognised the value of approaches such as co-design and co-production for improving health outcomes, driving value for money, better decision-making, improving quality, accountability and transparency and addressing health inequalities.

But what is co-design exactly? And, how might someone go about co-designing? Co-design is an approach to actively involving people in the design of services, strategies, policies and processes that impact their lives. Within co-design for health and care, patients and stakeholders should actively take part in the design of an intervention, such as a service, policy, or experience. Co-design has been described as containing three important ingredients; overarching principles or a mindset (e.g. people are experts in their own lives and can create ideas), processes (using the stages of a design process) and practical activities (the subject of this blog).