MUSC Health HCD project

Group of women from left to right: Alex O’Brien, Tammy Smith Thompson, Kathleen White, Stephanie Brown
From L to R: Alex O’Brien, Tammy Smith Thompson, Kathleen White, Stephanie Brown

The MUSC Strategic Design & Innovation (SDI) team serves MUSC’s clinical and non-clinical departments by facilitating new solutions to everyday challenges through the use of design (creative problem solving).  The design process consists of an investigation, allowing the team to observe, interview and find evidence to provide insight on the challenge.  A discussion allows time to review findings, identify patterns and analyze data, considering multiple perspectives.  During conception, participants brainstorm, develop ideas, filter them, prototype and repeat this process as needed.  Finally, with buy-in from stakeholders, action planning for implementation enables the teams to realize new solutions.


This spring, theMUSC SDI team facilitated a human-centered design sprint for HAP-739, a Health Care Strategy course offered by the College of Health Professions, and taught by Caroline Moluf and Lauren O’Dell.   Led by SDI’smanager, this two-hour and fifty-minute session enabled second year students in the Master of Health Administration (MHA) program to learn the steps of human-centered design and to gain practical experience by teaming in four small groups to design solutions for real projects.  Students engaged in the “investigation” phase of design by conducting site visits and interviewing stakeholders on four topics (patient and family education, registration, surgery and patient flow).  They then reconvened in the classroom to brainstorm, ideate and prototype ideas.  Each team presented a proposal to the class, detailing design solutions.  This exercise provided valuable content to students, enabling them to learn about actual challenges at MUSC and to follow a design process for developing solutions.  Students agreed that they “enjoyed the interactive session, and felt that they had learned a skill that would be useful in their careers.  The ideas presented enabled the SDIteam to capture the fresh and innovative perspectives of students, and apply these ideas to their projects.  Before the semester ended, students received updates regarding the potential implementation of their ideas.

After the success of its first student design charrette, the SDIteam partnered with MUSC Health Patient-and Family-Centered Care (PFCC) to design content for the MUSC Office of Interprofessional Initiatives.  The spring offering of IP 741:  Clinical Care, an interprofessional concentration course for first year students, included a new project focused on a partnership between patients, families and care team members.  Students started by hearing Caroline Delongchamps’ amazing story and listening to six other equally compelling stories from the MUSC Patient Story Library. Students and facilitators engaged in discussions and empathy mapping exercises to analyze these experiences, and to identify opportunities to address them using the four core concepts of patient and family centered care (dignity and respect, information sharing, participation and collaboration).  Students in each section of the course were grouped into small teams to address three real design challenges from SDI.  Each group interviewed stakeholders, conducted literature reviews and worked together to develop a plan of action.  They presented their projects to their classmates, with feedback from department leaders and course facilitators.  Leaders from the Office of Interprofessional Initiatives remarked that the students “produced extremely thoughtful, high quality work as part of the Clinical Care concentration course.”  They acknowledged SDI for “setting the tone for the course as one of collaboration and team work.” 


SDI and PFCC worked closely with Course Director Dusti Annan-Coultas and Instructor Kimberly Kascak, with support from Professor Mary Mauldin and Assistant Provost Jeffrey Borckardt to enable students to practice design tools that lead to innovation. SDI and PFCC will offer a new Interprofessional elective course available to all MUSC students focused on patient-centered design during the Fall 2019 semester. SDI and PFCC have worked together on multiple hospital projects because patient and family participation is an integral part of human-centered design for health care.  These courses are designed not only to allow students to gain practical experience in creative problem solving, but they also promote a culture of collaboration with patients and families, by allowing students the opportunity to practice the core concepts of PFCC with them.

With a goal of fostering a culture of innovation throughout the MUSC enterprise, the Strategic Design & Innovation team finds great benefit in collaboration with MUSC students.  Not only does this provide a steady stream of fresh ideas, aligning with its mission of transforming health care delivery through human-centric innovations, but it prepares MUSC students to become leaders in health care innovation.  To learn more about SDI’s work, please visit, or send inquiries to