We connect designers with healthcare workers and patients to identify opportunities for improvement in the healthcare experience. Whether it be a service, tool, product or system change, we work together to design a solution that works for everyone.

Where it all started

Human centred design complements use of lean methodology and collective leadership through its strong focus on human factors empathy, prototyping and creativity.

In 2016 Mater Transformation began working with the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) in Dublin to explore the potential for design based innovation in healthcare.

Since it began, this collaboration connected over 150 design students with healthcare workers to provide a new perspective on more than 70 different healthcare challenges.

Mater - NCAD Design Sprints

Each year, Mater Transformation and NCAD run a number of design engagements together. 

  • Design Week – a one week sprint in Autumn where teams of students from MSc Medical Devices, MA Interaction Design and MA Service Design work alongside hospital staff to solve a series of challenges. The challenges are put forward by hospital staff and the teams present their proposed solutions at a ‘Design Showcase’ at the end of the week.
  • Five Week Design Sprint – this takes place in Spring with students from MA Interaction Design and MA Service Design. The whole group work on a major systems challenge identified by Mater Transformation and the Hospital Executive Management team.
  • Students from MA Interaction Design and MA Service Design can opt to work on a hospital based project for their final thesis project. These projects tend to arise from real-world challenges highlighted by healthcare staff.

These design engagements give healthcare teams an opportunity to access a range of design skills to shed new light on old problems.  It also enables staff to learn about design-led innovation and how they might continue to apply human centred design beyond the engagement.

Design in health - Implementation

Design sprints provide a solid foundation of research insights and new ideas, but with complex problems like these, more dedicated time, iteration and resources is needed to bring the idea to fruition.

To help drive this, the two organisations have now partnered with HSE Spark Innovation to develop a design implementation programme, which includes a designer in residence and design internship roles based at Mater Transformation as well as access to senior designers in NCAD.

Design internships - undergraduate design students from NCAD spend 4-6 months working with the team to gain experience applying design in a real world, professional context. This is done as part of their Studio+ year at NCAD.

Designer in residence – this is a one year programme where newly qualified or early stage designers work with the team for one year

Testimonial about the internships

  • “I found this the most valuable internship, If I would have just stayed in college I wouldn’t of had anything as good for my portfolio. It’s the project from the Mater that’s in my portfolio is what landed by summer job”

    “I did not expect to become more comfortable and confident with design, working alongside talented designers taught me so many valuable skills and new ways of thinking.”

    Lauryn Flynn | Design Intern | 2022 - 2023
  • Feeling like my work is valued has been the best thing, I know of other people who take internships whose work is never used or thrown away. Knowing my work like the pride t-shirts or the design week videos that I created is used is the greatest thing

    Jack McEvitt | Design Intern | 2022 - 2023
  • “An internship at Mater Transformation is invaluable. I learned more in my six months at Mater Transformation than I had in my previous two years of college. It offered me opportunities to research, upskill, network, and explore my own areas of interest within the space.“

    Mark McDonagh | Design Intern | 2021 - 2022

Many of the solutions that have emerged are now actively enhancing patients’ experiences, resolving operational challenges and addressing quality and safety issues. Read more about these design-led innovation projects and the impact they are having.