Katherine Sellen

Canada Research Chair in Design for Health

Tier 2 - 2018-07-01
OCAD University
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

416-979-5000, ext. 4588

Research involves

Designing tools to support dynamic experiences and work practices in the health sector.

Research relevance

This research will lead to new methods in health care design to improve safety, performance, temporality and work/task dynamics.

Designing for Dynamics in Health

It’s tempting to make sweeping statements about the health care sector, such as that it is dominated by science or that doctors hold too much power. But the reality may be far more complex. Dr. Katherine Sellen, Canada Research Chair in Design for Health, believes that better-designed health care tools could offer improved, alternative ways of doing things—especially when it comes to bringing about change.

To date, the adoption of new health care tools has not been universally successful. Often, the failure is caused by clinician and staff resistance or lack of adoption. There is currently a gap, in terms of new approaches and frameworks, in guiding the design of tools and systems used in highly dynamic and human situations. Examples include urgent situations, such as first aid response, and highly critical calculations, such as opiate medication ordering.

Sellen and her research team are designing effective information tools to perform small, discreet tasks in health care. These may include new ways to represent information in specific medical situations, such as medication calculations, as well as tools to support complex tasks. They are also designing information for dynamic situations, such as emergencies.

At its broadest level, research by Sellen and her team will create new design techniques for various areas of health and well-being, using participatory and inclusive design approaches. It will also explore how designed objects, interactions and experiences can be personally and community-relevant as well as evidence-based.