IT’S NO SECRET THAT DESIGN THINKING IS MAKING ITS WAY INTO EVERY DOMAIN OF HEALTHCARE BUSINESS AND STRATEGY—JUST READ THE PRESS.


What are you doing to incorporate strategic design thinking into your career and your business activities? Surely you are folding design in, right?

We all need to embrace design as a tool—the benefits of taking a human-centered approach to problem seeking and solving are profound. Not taking the time to understand the value of design could rapidly lead to irrelevance in your career.

Enter The Institute of Healthcare Design Thinkingan organization formed to challenge, inspire and motivate healthcare leaders to embrace design thinking and challenge conventional thought in healthcare. The Institute offers healthcare executives like you powerful tools and resources for becoming a design thinker regardless of your background or experience with design.

When we talk design, we’re not talking about logos and websites—we are talking about applying the methods and principles of design thinking to your everyday work to challenge traditional thinking and facilitate transformational outcomes.


What’s so great about becoming a design thinker?

Well, first of all, you already have many of the tools and capabilities at hand, so you’re not starting from scratch. Believe it or not, as a healthcare marketer, you use design everyday in everything that you do. Recognize yourself as a design thinker and engage with the Institute to unlock the skills you already possess and purposefully take them to the next level to improve your work.

Design is everywhere, and design has no subject matter…the Institute will help you recognize and ramp up your skills through structured content, best practice sharing, and learning opportunities based on the experiences of some of healthcare’s leading design thinkers.

Think about your role as a healthcare marketer and recognize design in everyday moments—and where you can better leverage design thinking to make improvements.

No time? No resources? No problem!

As healthcare marketers and strategists we are seasoned pros at thinking fast and on our feet—working creatively within constraints. Battling everyday demands keeps us agile. We learn to be flexible, to bend but not to break. We realize things won’t be perfect but strive to minimize errors and put out fires to stay afloat.

Design is about having purpose while working under a tight set of constraints. These constraints are the boundaries, yet also provide a framework for creativity to maximize our efforts and drive outcomes. Healthcare marketers are no strangers to working under a resource-constrained environment. Using design thinking tools affords a fresh perspective to see your situation in a new light. Engaging in the process of mind mapping allows you to identify connections and issues and transform them into meaningful opportunities.

It’s a team effort.

As healthcare marketers, we can’t do it all, but we play a very important role in the articulation of voice and experiences. As part of a larger team, we are looked to for insights, guidance and strategic vision to build business and impact positive business and clinical outcomes. And, likewise, we turn to others for guidance and inspiration. We bring together teams to champion efforts and boost morale. We have diverse backgrounds and work on cross-functional groups to remove barriers. We are the connecting link throughout the organization—we convey what’s on the inside, within our four walls—to the outside: the community we serve on the receiving end of our efforts.

Design is an interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary practice and the greatest outcomes arrive through strategic collaboration. We cannot successfully design within a vacuum—it is imperative to involve all sides of the equation to understand the underlying emotions, needs and behaviors. Using the process of journey mapping allows us to understand experiences from a range of perspectives and identify opportunities for improvements.

Keeping the peace.

We navigate the political and cultural intricacies of our organizations on a daily basis. We are detail-oriented and know how to massage conversations and set the stage for discussions. We know who to talk to and how to talk to them. We have a deep knowledge of our organization—its inner workings and have worked hard to establish and nurture relationships between clinical and non-clinical staff. We often need to get things done quickly and efficiently and not step on any toes in the process.

With design thinking, there is a deep knowledge that comes from taking the time to connect and engage with users. Through the use of human science research and ethnography, we can learn about our audience—what they value most, what messages are relevant, and how they receive the messages we deliver.

Strategy is implementation.

As healthcare marketers, we are dialed into the strategic trajectory of the organization and must deploy tactics that support patient activation and engagement and drive service line growth. Everything we do must have a particular purpose and drive a particular outcome. We have the ability to zoom into the details while stepping back and maintaining a broader strategic view of the organization’s goals and objectives.

Design is about viewing situations from all sides and possessing the ability to change your point of view. Taking the time to understand the detailed intricacies of situations while maintaining a pulse on the bigger picture for the organization. It’s about awareness and being dialed in. In design, we build prototypes to test ideas,comparing solutions against our strategic framework or project objectives.


Healthcare marketers and strategists are the listeners, messengers, facilitators, and arbitrators. We define the voice of the organization.


Everyone seeks out the marketing and strategy team for answers, guidance and resources. Healthcare marketing and strategists are facilitators and advocates, championing internal staff and illuminating clinical and community opportunities as well as victories. We are allies and partners bridging the gap between the community and the clinicians—and ultimately serve as the voice of our organization.

It is the duty of healthcare marketers and strategists to be relevant to the multitude of audiences we serve. To do this, we must be open to recognize design thinking as our daily challenges and embrace the lens of design to yet new means for approaching your daily challenges and embrace the lens of design to improve your work and experience.