Design Thinking as a Tool for Interdisciplinary Education in Health Care



Grappling with complex structural health care issues requires medical professionals to have training in skills and knowledge that go beyond the basic and clinical sciences. It is also crucial for health care professionals to be able to work collaboratively. However, medical education has only limitedly institutionalized the teaching of these skills.


In fall 2014, a one-semester crossover course called Hacking Healthcare was developed by the University of Amsterdam in cooperation with the Gerrit Rietveld Academie of Fine Arts and six health care institutions in the greater Amsterdam area. The course comprised one or two weekly three-hour evening sessions consisting of a lecture, workshop, and group work. It was structured using the three stages of the design thinking process—inspiration, ideation, and implementation. Twenty-seven medicine, psychology, other science disciplines, and art students participated, working in interdisciplinary groups on an assigned case study.


The course yielded both unconventional and holistic key insights and a wide range of tangible outcomes, which were also considered to be relevant by the patient. Among university (i.e., nonart) students (n = 14), the average overall score of the course was 8.5 out of 10, with 10 being the highest rating. Aspects of the course that were mentioned as positive points were the activating teaching environment, academic development, and development of collaboration skills and creative capabilities.

Next Steps 

This approach could be applied in other fields, such as medical education on a larger scale, clinical practice, and the design of scientific research.


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5 thoughts on “Design Thinking as a Tool for Interdisciplinary Education in Health Care

  1. Jane Repin Carthey

    An interesting project. My doctoral research looked at design user groups for healthcare buildings and talked about how the different professions involved (e.g., clinicians, architects and managers) worked together and made decisions. The way that they approached decision making was usually the result of how they were trained and how they work together on a day to day basis. It would be interesting to see if bringing design thinking together with clinical training could include training in building or other physical design issues too. Perhaps then we may have more productive design forums for health buildings and as a result, better outcomes for clinicians, patients and the managers responsible for running or funding them. Interested in your thoughts regarding this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Designer Marcio Dupont Post author

      Hi Jane Thanks for the feedback. As designer I think design thinking would enrich the process and results to all involved. I found the article very interest. However design thinking is still restricted and oriented to businesses. It not viewed as a tool for creativity and process innovation. Your phd sounds great, if you want to publish here be my guest. BTW I want to invite to Currnt and the group “The future of design” where I’m a panelist. Join here
      Thanks, all the best, kind regards.


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