Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Research methods from human-centered......pdf (3.76 MB)

Research methods from human-centered design: Potential applications in pharmacy and health services research

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-07-26, 16:30 authored by Michelle FloodMichelle Flood, Mark Ennis, Aoife Ludlow, Fabian SweeneyFabian Sweeney, Alice HoltonAlice Holton, Stephanie Morgan, Colleen Clarke, Padraig CarrollPadraig Carroll, Lisa MellonLisa Mellon, Fiona BolandFiona Boland, Sarah Mohamed, Aoife De Brún, Marcus Hanratty, Frank MoriartyFrank Moriarty
Challenges faced by health systems have become increasingly complex, and expanding the range of methodological options available via interdisciplinary collaboration is important to enable researchers to address them. As complexity increases, it can be more difficult to ensure solutions remain patient-centered. Human-centered design is an approach that focuses on engaging with and understanding the needs of all services users while retaining a systems perspective. Therefore, design professionals skilled in these approaches are increasingly collaborating within health systems in pharmacy and health research teams. This methodological paper considers the potential contribution of human-centered design approaches to optimising development, implementation, and sustainability of patient-centered interventions in pharmacy and health services research. It provides an overview of human-centered design principles and their application, and outlines the emerging roles of design professionals in pharmacy and health services research. It focuses on three key human-centered design methods that can most readily be used by pharmacy and health services researchers. Journey mapping, prototyping, and user testing are discussed in detail. Journey mapping enables holistic visualisation of patient experience from practical and emotional perspectives. It may be used to visualize current practice or model potential future services, and can be informed by quantitative and qualitative data derived from both primary and secondary research. Prototyping facilitates exploration of interventions such as new services quickly and at low-cost. Health services researchers can utilize prototypes for services, processes, experiences, physical objects, environments, spaces, or digital tools for example. Formative evaluation and user testing supports rapid iteration of prototypes to ensure that they meet patient and healthcare professional needs. Finally, challenges with interdisciplinary collaboration and strategies to maximize the potential of using human-centered design approaches in pharmacy and health services research to address complex challenges, enhance practice and deliver benefits for service users, patients, and health systems are discussed.


Fulbright Irish-US Scholar Award from the Fulbright Commission in Ireland

Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 252



The original article is available at

Published Citation

Flood M et al. Research methods from human-centered design: Potential applications in pharmacy and health services research. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2021:S1551-7411(21)00231-X.

Publication Date

26 June 2021

PubMed ID



  • Data Science Centre
  • School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences
  • Health Psychology

Research Area

  • Population Health and Health Services
  • Health Professions Education




  • Published Version (Version of Record)