Empathic Design Guidelines in Healthcare for Successful Product Development

Master of Design

2015, MDES, University of Cincinnati, Design, Architecture, Art and Planning: Design



Design does not play a lot in the world of science. We are not seen as significant because our connection to subjectivity and emotions. Now, there is a new value of what we do. With the healthcare industry evolving from doctor centric to patient centric, there is a need to take the emotional and experiential need of the patient in consideration. This thesis proposes the use of empathy in new product development to become the bridge between the rational and the emotional and with this create deeper connections between the person and the product. 

In my research, I present the psychological, medical and design perspectives of empathy. The way our brain works and why are we empathic or not, the reason the healthcare industry has a more rational way of doing things and our opportunity as designers to create a positive impact on an evolving industry such as healthcare. 
I analyzed two case studies that were created with an empathic approach, the GE Adventure Series by GE Healthcare and smartGlow by Live Well Collaborative and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. With those findings I created six guidelines:
-The Balance of Rational & Emotional
-Co-Development with Users
-Translate Empathic Inferences
-Interdisciplinary Experts Engaged with User Research
- Look for the Alternative Futures
- Be Humble.

I believe that, these guidelines, if apply to new product development, will create stronger bonding with the user and will translate to better experiences and a more successful product.