Center for Design in Health College of Design

Center for Design in Health

About the Director 

KathleenDr. Kathleen A. Harder is Director of the Center for Design in Health, University of Minnesota, and Director of Graduate Studies, Human Factors Program, University of Minnesota. In her research program she applies her expertise regarding the strengths and weaknesses of human information processing to design systems that facilitate better human performance and reduce errors. Her emphasis is on designing work processes to foster better patient outcomes and on designing technology to enhance work processes.


She has conducted extensive systems analyses and generated recommendations to improve care delivery with a variety of different processes including heparin administration, blood transfusion process and policy, preventing unintentionally retained foreign objects following surgery, surgical specimen handling and tracking, and systems issues surrounding administering medications to patients.


After conducting an extensive analysis of surgical procedures in perioperative services in eight Minnesota hospital facilities she designed the Safe Surgery Process to foster the active cognitive engagement of all team members at relevant points, making the process more rigorous, reliable, and effective so that surgery patients receive the correct procedure at the correct site. In 2009, the Joint Commission approved the Safe Surgery Process as an alternate universal protocol in the State of Minnesota. The Safe Surgery Process has been implemented in a number of hospitals in Minnesota and is undergoing implementation in other hospitals in Minnesota and the United States.


She has also assessed the design and functionality of medical devices and health information technology. She has conducted extensive analyses of the functionality of electronic medical records systems and has worked closely with a large health care organization to develop electronic orders for blood transfusions. Most recently, as a coinvestigator on a CMS Innovation grant, she is collaborating with others on the team to design and implement a dashboard of electronic patient information so that clinicians can use the information effectively and efficiently as they provide care to critically ill patients.


Kathleen serves as the human factors content expert with the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ICSI) for its perioperative protocol (including preventing unintentionally retained foreign objects and wrong-site surgery) and a protocol to prevent unintentionally retained foreign objects following vaginal delivery.


She is engaged in community outreach through numerous speaking engagements and meetings with those involved in the delivery of patient care.


Dr. Harder has a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Dartmouth College.

Contact Information:
Kathleen A. Harder, Ph.D., Director
Suite 225
1425 University Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN  55414