Improving Patient Experience through a Design Process: A Transdisciplinary Design Research Project for an Older Population


Definition of the word design has vastly expanded, and usage has adopted into many different professional disciplines. Graphic designers are now applying their creative process to healthcare and other service sectors. Funded by the university-wide Drexel Areas of Research Excellence (DARE), we created an undergraduate research collaboration between Graphic Design and Health Administration programs. This transdisciplinary research project engaged faculty investigators from Graphic Design and Health Administration. In addition, two student research assistants were recruited from undergraduate Graphic Design and Health Science majors. The objective of service design is to involve consumers, designers, and businesspeople in an integrative process, which we applied to a post-acute rehabilitation hospital setting focusing on the experience of those who are 65 and older. The patient narratives through on-site interviews raised challenges and positive aspects of their interactions with the facility. We also interviewed five people, including clinicians and administrative staff. During two follow-up visits, we interviewed seven patients. The questionnaire was divided into three sections: pre-arrival, during the visit, and after their appointments. Interview results were summarized in a visual data format and collaborative recommendations were made during the final presentation such as interior layout, wayfinding, online portal and their functionalities. Our findings confirm that the interior signage created confusion, promoting frequent questions to staff. These results will engage stakeholders and contribute to a co-designing process that will ultimately improve the patient journey. Our research confirmed that design practice to elevate the patient experience through transdisciplinary/cross-professional collaboration is paramount to undergraduate design education.


Shushi Yoshinaga
Associate Professor, Department of Design, Drexel University, Pennsylvania, United States

Kristine A. Mulhorn
Professor and Chair, Health Administration Department, Drexel University, Pennsylvania, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design Education



Digital Media