Center for Design in Health College of Design

Center for Design in Health

Mission Statement 

The mission of the Center for Design in Health is to foster excellence in human factors systems design, with an emphasis on designing work processes to facilitate better performance and on designing technology to enhance work processes.  We go beyond problem description—we solve problems by generating innovative design solutions that facilitate better performance.


A central goal of the Center is to generate cutting edge research fostered by interdisciplinary collaboration with others working in health-related design. The Center focuses on bringing researchers working in process design, medical technology, architecture, landscape architecture, and clothing design together to create forward-thinking systems solutions to health-related problems.


Kathleen A. Harder, PhD


In her research program, Dr. Harder investigates problems in health care delivery and then designs work processes to facilitate better human performance and technology (e.g., electronic information systems) to enhance work processes.  She applies her expertise regarding the strengths and weaknesses of human information processing to produce solutions that lead to reductions in human error and improved patient care.


Current and past work ranges from designing elements of stand-alone procedures to an entire redesign of processes that permeate a system.  Examples are briefly summarized below:

  • Systematically analyzing and suggesting recommendations for redesigning electronic medical records systems to complement the needs of health care practitioners—to ease their work flow rather than hinder it.  
  • Assessing and redesigning stand-alone practices such as (1) the administration of heparin, and (2) assisting in the development of a Code Caesarean-Section policy.
  • Focusing on elements of complex procedures such as (1) an analysis and redesign of the OR (operating room) count process to prevent unintentionally retained foreign objects following surgery, (2) a focus on specimen handling procedures in ORs, and (3) designing the Safe Surgery Process (beginning in Pre-Op) to ensure that the correct patient receives the correct surgery at the correct site. (The Joint Commission is allowing the Safe Surgery Process to be piloted in Minnesota hospitals as an alternative to the Universal Protocol.) The Safe Surgery Process is undergoing implementation in most Minnesota Hospitals and other hospitals throught the United States.
  • Investigating and redesigning the work flow on patient care units, with a focus on implementing effective and efficient patient care and minimizing medication errors.
  • Systematically analyzing and redesigning hospital-wide procedures and the technology used in those procedures—an example is investigating the process of blood administration, with a focus on ensuring that patients receive the correct blood components.
  • Assessing product design and functionality in an IV pump selection process employing usability testing of front line staff and other analyses.
  • Investigating the specimen handling process in interventional radiology and designing a process to prevent lost or mishandled specimens.
  • Collaborating with the Critical Care Research Team at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN to design and implement a more effective electronic patient information dashboard (e.g., displays of  lab results, vital signs, and other elements essential for an effective and efficient clinical decision support system) for use in delivering critical care medicine.
Contact Information:
Kathleen A. Harder, Ph.D., Director
Suite 225
1425 University Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN  55414