Hacking Healthcare

Stethoscope + Keyboard Flickr


  • to understand and apply methods of design to societal problems (social design);
  • to be introduced to the context of Dutch healthcare through personal interaction with patients, healthcare providers and regulators;
  • to experiment with art and research collaboration, and to reflect on it; how can different disciplines work together on innovative solutions?


Healthcare faces many major challenges. The aging population, the impact of chronic diseases on people’s personal life, and the increasing technical opportunities to assist both patient and healthcare professional. Furthermore there is an urge to cut healthcare spending and to improve standards of care. Therefore, a new approach to these complex problems is important.

In order to innovate healthcare practice, not only specialist knowledge of (future) healthcare professionals is required, but also skills such as creative thinking, ability to observe and empathy are of great importance. These are the skills that characterize (future) artists.

Hacking healthcare brings together these future healthcare professionals (students from the faculties of Psychology and Medicine) and artists (students from arts & design schools) aiming to develop innovative solutions to concrete challenges in healthcare. Participants will be trained in social design skills and creativity by teachers of the arts & design school. Lecturers from the academic and healthcare field will introduce today’s challenges in healthcare.

In interdisciplinary groups you will work on solution for a concrete case in a healthcare institution (e.g. psychiatric hospital, general practitioner or a pharmaceutical company; final cases will be published on the IIS website) using Stanford’s design thinking methods*. Students will go through the different phases of design thinking in order to structure the process of innovation. Observation and participating in the context you design for is essential in this process. Groups will be facilitated in this collaboration of art and research.

* Stanford University’s design thinking is a method originally developed for product design. However, this mentality has become intertwined with multiple non-design courses in America’s top universities and World’s most innovative companies. This method enables radical innovation with the collaboration of people from diverse backgrounds, securing the connection with the final users (e.g. patients, family or healthcare providers).

Preferred knowledge

No specific knowledge is required. However, interest in healthcare and/or innovation, and curiosity for radical collaboration is expected.


The course is designed for 3rd year bachelor students, but also open to 2nd year bachelor and master students. Students can enroll via the registration form. There will be no registration via SIS. More information on the intake dates will follow soon.

If you encounter any problems, then please contact servicedesk-iis-science@uva.nl.

This course is primarily developed for students from the Faculty of Psychology and Medicine (AMC) and for students of a major in arts/design. Are you in a different field of study and interested in participating? Please apply through the procedure mentioned above and specify what you would like to contribute to the initiative.


From September to December: Weekly training seminars. During the week, site visits to healthcare institutions will be planned in subgroups (depending on the case). Additional inspiration and coaching sessions will be held. In January, teams will have the opportunity to independently finish their projects, only few seminars will take place until the final presentations. Location to be announced.


The meetings will be at wednesday evenings from the 30th of september onwards.

Study Material

Binder and design thinking methods will be provided through Blackboard.


Information about the costs of the course can be found here.

Number of students

ca. 30.


  • Essay (40%): individual academic essay in which you reflect on and deepen the design process from a chosen perspective.
  • Group assessment (60%): presentation of the solution and a non-prescribed final output, which at least includes a problem analysis, prototype and a final “product” (this product could be an installation, product design or an innovative service).


For students in Medicine (AMC) and Psychology, it is possible to follow Hacking Healthcare as an Honours or elective course. Ask your Board of Deans.

Conditions for admission
12 ECTS, 12 weeks
Language of instruction
Starts in

Published by  Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies