What is the Health Design Lab?

The Health Design Lab (HDL) is a research and design centre at Emily Carr University. Within the lab faculty and students from our undergraduate and graduate design programs work collaboratively on research and design projects with community and industry partners to address complex challenges in health and healthcare through a human-centred design approach that places an emphasis on participatory design research. The Health Design Lab works with a range of partners including Health Authorities, hospitals, public organizations, non-profits, private business and local start-ups.

Many of our projects focus on the improvement of services and experiences through human-centred participatory research methods. In these cases, our projects begin with problem-finding and sense-making through ethnographic research and co-design workshops to engage people with lived experience, in the design process and gain insights into their needs. These projects allow our partners to design more patient and user-centred products and services by surfacing a better understanding of the users’ needs and providing recommendations for how to meet these. Our research and design projects often result in the conceptualization and design of tangible products such as communication materials, websites, applications, wearables or medical products.

Our Team

Faculty and students working in the Health Design Lab primarily come from four key programs at Emily Carr University: Communication Design, Interaction Design, Industrial Design and our Master of Design program. In all cases, Emily Carr students are at the core of our projects—led by faculty, they develop research strategies, design final outcomes, write up the process and analyze the results.

Our Expertise

  • Human-centred Design Research
  • Participatory Design & Co-Design
  • Service Design
  • Communication Design & Information Design
  • User Experience and Interaction Design
  • Industrial Design and Wearable Tech

When we work with industry and community partners our projects cover a variety of health and well-being topics and areas. However, three core areas of research in the lab include research related to: aging and dementia, the use of participatory design methods in health, and projects related to indigenous health.

Our Collaborators

We collaborate with a range of Health Authorities, and public organizations, including: United Way, Vancouver Coastal Health, Providence Health Care, BC Women’s & Children’s Hospital, Ministry of Health, Provincial Health Services Authority, Fraser Health Authority, and BC Patient Safety & Quality Council. We also work with local industry partners such as recent collaborators, Headcheck Health, MindfulGarden, Careteam, Agartee Technologies, Xceppted Technologies inc.  Additionally, we frequently collaborate with researchers from other academic institutions including UBC, SFU, and UVic.

At the Health Design Lab, we …

  • support and generate new ideas and approaches for health and wellbeing;
  • work through an iterative process of research, user engagement, ideation, prototyping, and user testing;
  •  conceive of new products, services, experiences, and knowledge;
  • engage users in the design process to develop insights and drive outcomes;
  • advocate with empathy;
  • strive to improve the physical, mental and social health of our community.

 We seek partners who are committed to catalyzing and empowering change in our health systems and services through a people and community-centred approach. 

Our Partners