Design for Empowered Patientship


 Exploration of the concept of empowered patientship

The last decade has been characterized by socio-technical transformations in the field of digital technology and healthcare, enabling the growth of patient-centered care models in clinical research, service offerings, and policy. At the same time, the global pandemic has highlighted the essential role of design in integrating these innovations with human-centered design approaches and the development of products, services, and caregiving systems to positively impact patients’ everyday lives. However, there is a dearth of studies that systematically explore the theories of patient-centeredness concerning the constellation of healthcare and design practices.


Map of the Milan ecosystem shows healthcare projects implemented by local actors, individually or in coalitions.

Boston map, as in the Milan map, shows a range of projects able to transform the culture of local healthcare ecosystem.

Design for Empowered Patientship is the research initiative promoted by Polifactory  and the Center for Design della Northeastern University to study patient-centric projects and practices to highlight the significance of humanizing healthcare. This initiative works to identify emerging practices in two regions – Milan with its metropolitan area and Boston with its metropolitan area – to develop a structured account of the range of approaches that can empower patients and transform the culture of caregiving systems “from cure to care”. 

Polifactory and the Center for Design want to map the healthcare ecosystems of Boston and Milan, exploring co-design and co-production processes that contain evidence of patient-driven innovation to analyze them and expand the frame of (what we define as) empowered patientship: enabling patients and their caregiving system to think, have a voice and interact in a constructive dialogue with the cure and the care systems. We will observe and map different scenarios in which design plays a role in the interdisciplinary innovation process, mapping experiences and practices of products-services, technologies, organizational processes, initiatives, public programs or actions, and policies. We want to pinpoint and connect this emergent facts/knowledge to the actors’ system that produced them.

Center for Design will start from the study and mapping of the Boston healthcare ecosystem while Polifactory will upgrade the existing map of the Milan ecosystem previously implemented by the projects MaketoCare andDesign Healthcare Innovation. It will perform a comparison between Boston and Milan ecosystems to clarify the nature of the empowered patientship and identify opportunities for strategic cross-connections and research initiatives through interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships.

The results of this research, released in 2022, will enable Polifactory, Department of Design, Politecnico di Milano and Fondazione Politecnico Milano and the Center for Design and Fondazione Politecnico US to constitute the Design for Empowered Patientship research and project-oriented platform. The scope of the platform is to map the actors, the core competencies, strengths, and weaknesses of the healthcare ecosystem in Boston in its relationships with design and then compare it with Milano’s ecosystem. We’ll focus on the respective territorial contexts – Milano (and Lombardy), Boston (and Massachusetts) – to produce a knowledge base and the methodological common ground for joint development of experimental and applied research, project, and consultancy activities in the field of product-services design for patient innovation.


2022 - On going


Polifactory - Politecnico di Milano, Center for Design - Northeastern University


Fondazione Politecnico di Milano, Fondazione Politecnico US

Parole Chiave

Healthcare Innovation