Human-Centered Design

Human-centered design is a discipline incorporating the human needs perspective to solve problems in public health and medicine. As an introduction to the practice, learners will learn and follow a design process applying methods focused on building empathy, translating needs into solution requirements, creative ideation, prototype development and testing, and planning for implementation. Broad implementation science principles and approaches will be overlaid to show correlations.

At the end of the course, learners will be able to:

  • Recognize the intent and focus of human-centered design as a problem-solving practice
  • Describe the phases of the design process, the core activities that occur in each phase, and the phase objectives
  • Describe the implementation science principles that complement human-centered methods across the design process
  • Demonstrate basic skill in using design methods to solve a problem


Clinicians, public health practitioners, and healthcare/health services researchers interested in gaining knowledge of and skill in applying human centered methods.

Offered: Fall Term


Training or experience in public health, quality improvement, or health care organization leadership. Exceptions for these prerequisites may be made with the consent of the Course Director.



Course Directors

Meghana Gadgil, MD, MPH, FACP, is an Assistant Professor at UCSF in the Division of Hospital Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health in the Division of Health Policy and Management. She earned degrees in Biochemistry (B.A) and Conservation Resource Studies (B.S) and her Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley. Dr. Gadgil trained in Internal Medicine at Stanford as a member of the Global Health Track and has extensive experience working in diverse, low-resource settings around the world, including as a Fulbright Scholar in Bangladesh.

Jan Yeager, MDes, is a service designer in the Clinical Innovation Center at UCSF. Her work focuses on solving critical delivery system problems at UCSF Health. She brings her 20+ years expertise in human-centered design to multidisciplinary teams to understand both the human and the system factors associated with a problem to develop new care pathways and services and to improve patient experiences.


Course Requirements

Required Textbook:

You are expected to view the video lectures, complete assigned readings, and use tools to demonstrate your progress on the weekly design activities.  In addition, you will be expected to be an active participant in weekly virtual design labs to advance solutions; deliver a final presentation/report on your final solution; and complete course evaluations.

Completing this course will take an estimated 5-7 hours of work per module.

In order to receive a course completion certificate, learners are expected to:

  • Turn in weekly assignments by their due dates
  • Actively participate in design activities and weekly design labs
  • Produce and give an oral presentation that explains the problem to be solved, the path taken to solve the problem (design methods used), the design of the solution, and the proposal for implementation.

Students who do not actively participate in design activities (including using the provided tools to demonstrate progress on their design) will have the option of auditing or dropping the course. In either case, course fees will not be refunded.