Design Institute for Health

The Design Institute for Health is a first-of-its-kind initiative dedicated to applying a creative design-based approach to the nation’s health care challenges — and rapidly integrating that perspective into medical education and community health programs.


The Design Institute for Health is a collaboration between Dell Medical School and the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. The institute is led by two veterans of the internationally recognized design firm IDEO: Stacey Chang, IDEO’s former managing director of health and wellness; and Beto Lopez, former head of systems design at IDEO and a UT Austin alumnus.

As a key resource reaching across the medical school’s functions and projects, the Design Institute aims to meaningfully change health care — and improve the community’s health — by focusing on three initial areas:

No. 1 - A creative, collaborative model for improving health

A convergence of unique conditions makes Austin the ideal environment for redesigning traditional models for fostering and improving health in a community. A broad set of stakeholders in Austin, including service providers, public health entities, academic institutions, employers, civic groups, the community itself, and many more, are keen to develop a value-based health system. In pursuit of that, the Institute will drill down for deeper insight into the community’s health-related needs and desires — focusing not just on what happens when a person gets sick, but also what it means to be and stay well. That knowledge will inform the broader systems’ collaborative efforts to develop approaches that deliver better health care in our neighborhoods and at home, and that enable and empower individuals to manage their own health. The Institute will employ a unique, creative problem-solving approach, more generally known as “design thinking”, to help multiple stakeholders capitalize on their capabilities and develop coordinated solutions.

No. 2 – Platforms to enable new innovations in health

A vital, inclusive health ecosystem — the vision of the Dell Medical School — requires new capabilities to realize improved models of care and delivery. These new capabilities, be they new devices or models of care delivery, will come from a broad set of innovators: entrepreneurial start-ups, established companies developing new offers, and new collaborations between academia and industry, to name a few. These innovators typically struggle to gain access to health systems where they can quickly test approaches and inventions, get feedback and refine ideas into meaningful solutions. And when they do get access, they often face hurdles marked by conventional thinking and resistance to change.

The Design Institute seeks to help create a system that is open to creativity — a future-facing health ecosystem in Austin that encourages and empowers the brightest minds and mission-driven businesses to think big. The future of health will be built around continuously improved care and lower overall costs — Austin’s health ecosystem provides a platform for interdisciplinary teams to creatively implement new ideas, under diverse operating conditions, to help create real value in health care. The Design Institute will enable this innovation by connecting people and providers with new capabilities (such as digital health technologies) and existing capabilities (such as specialized clinical centers) to better meet the needs of the community, patients, hospitals, physicians, nurses, employers, and other stakeholders.

No. 3 - A resource for design execution

Bringing big ideas to fruition requires substantial design execution talent. To realize the health ecosystem of the future, the Design Institute is engaging designers who are fluent in health and have the design capabilities to implement promising ideas. The Design Institute and other partners invested in changing health will continually nurture the growth of a community-wide design capability, one that creates tangible expressions of a new and better health ecosystem, uses design thinking and associated methodologies to establish new person-centered approaches to health, and facilitates and promotes radical collaboration to help address the needs expressed by the community of Austin and Travis County.