Reflecting on the combined results from the Library Database, Expert network and Grey Literature reviews demonstrates the breadth of contexts and outputs where design and creative practice have demonstrated impact. Through the richness delivered by the case studies it can be seen how the methods and approaches of design can engage with the diverse stakeholders to deliver the innovative outcomes that health and social care needs to respond to the challenges that face society today and ongoing.

There is evidence of a significant and growing expertise within the design community around methods and techniques that engage with the traditionally difficult to reach – and work with groups that rely on and respond to participatory methods that are more democratic and not reliant on traditional forms of research. Using creative methods to engage people potentially allows the flattening of hierarchies that abound in the bureaucratic world of health and social care providing a voice to often marginalised stakeholders.

The conduct of this review has highlighted challenges for this emergent field of enquiry. The ubiquitous nature of the word ‘design’ makes it difficult to conduct literature reviews and designers’ own propensity for ‘journalistic’ titles and abstracts makes identifying projects difficult. There are also different professional norms for dissemination, with the health paradigm concentrating efforts in the realm of peer reviewed publications, against a far more engaging and varied approach to exhibition, performance and making employed by designers and creative practitioners. As a community we need to be more savvy in how we identify and reference our work to increase its visibility. This might be through collaboration or through actively curating our outputs.

Design in health might be establishing itself and becoming more visible just at the right time. Increasingly the challenge of getting research evidence into practice is engaging the collective consciousness of leading health service researchers. Knowledge mobilisation, transfer, utilisation is looking to different models that are quick to diverge from traditional linear ideas around how people use research. Co-production is being lauded as a means to creating meaningful knowledge, and design and creative practice have experience and expertise to deliver this.

The NHS Five Year Forward View (NHS England 2014)* – referenced below – is a key document that seeks to describe both the need for and route to change that is required for the United Kingdom NHS. It describes the need for a new relationship with patients and communities and discourse about empowerment and engagement which have long been the preserve of design and creative practice. We should be very well positioned to respond to this challenge and this report may contribute to highlighting the breadth and depth of work being undertaken and provides a strong platform on which to build and influence health and social care and ultimately deliver better healthcare to the citizens of the UK and beyond.

*NHS England (2014) Five Year Forward View. London, UK. retrieved from