Design Health Program

The Design Health Program is a patient-focused program that discovers pressing needs in healthcare and assembles teams from across engineering, business, medicine, and other disciplines to create real-world solutions. The program provides an immersive learning experience where teams don’t solve pre-defined problems, but actively identify, validate, and prioritize problems that will impact human health.

Through a partnership with the School of Medicine, members of each team will gather data and insight in the clinical environment and use structured ethnography tools to identify unmet, underserved and unarticulated needs. These needs will be analyzed and screened using market analysis, intellectual property assessments, and other tools before transitioning to solution generation. In the second half of the program, hundreds of solutions will be generated, screened, synthesized and prototyped to produce market-testable product concepts. In the final months, the team will develop business, regulatory, reimbursement, clinical and manufacturing plans to implement the product. The program will give participants a world-class education in medical innovation, mentorship from industry experts, and a polished product and business model that they can choose to take to market or use as a stepping stone in their own innovations.

All prospective participants should be willing to commit five to ten hours each week. Participants will receive coaching from experts in medicine, innovation and product development processes, entrepreneurship and engineering both internal and external to Duke. Individuals should not enter the program with a specific need or solution in mind; they must be willing to explore several opportunities through a structured discovery process.


The Design Health Program format: 2020-2021

Currently, the program is seeking applicants from the School of Medicine (residents, fellows, and third-year medical students), the School of Nursing (all programs), the Pratt School of Engineering (Graduate students), the Trinity School (Graduate Students), the Law School, and the Fuqua School of Business (2nd year MBA students). Exceptional Juniors and Seniors with design or product development experience may also be considered. PhD students and medical trainees will require the permission of their department to participate. The first round of applications for Fellows and Associates will close on May 1, 2020. A second round for Associates will open in Fall 2020.

As the program now enters its third year, there are two potential roles for Design Health team members:

  • Design Health Fellows begin the program in Fall 2020 with a course in clinical immersion where they find and validate clinical needs. They are joined with the Design Health Associates in the spring to create solutions and prototypes. In the following fall (2021), they may return to develop a business/implementation plan for their product. Fellows are asked to commit to a project for at least two semesters and put in additional time and effort to manage team activities.
  • Design Health Associates join the program in Spring 2021 or Fall 2021 and actively participate as innovators and team members, bringing their specific expertise and skills to the team and project execution.

 Phase 1: Opportunity Definition (Fall 2020)

  • Fellows do clinical immersion, find and screen needs

Phase 2: Solution Landscape and Concept Definition (Spring 2021)

  • Associates join to develop customer requirements and create concepts

Phase 3: Product Development and Implementation (Fall 2021)

  • Fellows and Associates continue development of concepts into viable products