Most people think of hospitals as being a cold and sterile place, the sort of place you want to be in and out of in double-quick time. Unfortunately, this is not possible for everyone and in this blog post we are going to look at the ways that designers have helped hospitals and healthcare become friendlier for those that need them.


Hospitals can be difficult to find your way around even when you have lots of time and no health conditions, but for disorientated dementia patients in a ward where all the doors look the same, finding your way back to your room can prove impossible.

A pink and a blue door on Thistle Street in Newham hospital

This is what prompted design student Rebecca Thomson to develop Thistle Street. Thistle Street transformed the Thistle Ward in Newham Hospital to an idyllic 1940’s community rebuilt after the war.

With new trade being internationally transported, coloured pigment was one of the products that arrived on the London Docks and people in the area started painting their front doors in bright colours to bring a sense of hope and optimism.

This design brought a sense of ownership and community into the hospital ward, providing a familiar backdrop for elderly patients.

A blue door with an image of an umbrella by it on Thistle Street in Newham hospital


When patients do not understand the medical terminology that is used to describe their condition, it can be hard for them to manage it effectively.

Designers have been using visual aids to help present information to patients, saving time on the behalf of medical staff and improving the overall care of patients.

Visualising Health have created a website that helps doctors, hospitals, researchers and public health professionals to create visualisations and graphic displays of health information that can be hard to understand.

Information like BMI, cholesterol levels and risks for heart disease or cancer can be hard to communicate to patients, with the help of personalised graphics patients can understand the risks associated and the methods of minimising them.

Here at Ready, we recently helped BMJ, the global brand at the forefront of healthcare who publish over 60 leading medical and science journals, to simplify the way they produce marketing material across their portfolio.

The icon based illustrations we designed for BMJ for each of their journals

We created a unified design language based around a set of icon-based illustrations, one for each journal. The icons distinguish individual journals but keep a uniform feel across the portfolio, maintaining an overall brand consistency.

With responsibility for end-user marketing across every journal, it was important that the designs suited the users.


A service designer at the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation, Krisa Ryan, reduced hospitalisations in dialysis units.

As a result of a change in Medicare in the US, dialysis had to cost less and be better. Krisa developed eight personas showing the trajectory of dialysis patients from diagnosis to treatment, demonstrating similarities and differences in the patients in both the medical and the non-medical.

Patients have lots of options as to where they can receive dialysis and how they receive it. The medical experts considered these personas and realised that dialysis treatment could not only come from a medical background, it must take into account their personal life.

They looked at the trajectory again they found points where they could implement interventions to increase communication and define roles more clearly from an earlier point in the patient’s diagnosis.

The ways that designers can help healthcare become more holistic and medical experts better at communicating are numerous and we are sure that designers will have an even greater role in the future as funding is cut even further and healthcare is still striving for improvement.