An open call to the Design & Innovation community

The Design on the Frontline initiative has emerged as a result of Covid-19, but the concept has been incubating for longer. The HSE’s Spark Innovation Team works closely with frontline healthcare workers to support existing and emerging needs. The need for innovation, creativity and change have always been high on that list, and so, over the past 3 years we have have introduced hundreds of our frontline staff to the practices, principles, tools and mindset of Human-Centered design and innovation. As a result, there is an increasing awareness of what good and bad design looks like and growing desire for design to play a bigger part in shaping our healthcare system. 

And that takes us to today and to the Design on the Frontline initiative. We put two simple questions to our frontline staff; 


What current challenges are preventing you

from doing your job well today?



what is currently causing your patient's distress or

leading to negative experiences? 

We had an overwhelming response to the call and the submissions were organised, themed and prioritised. From this, we developed 3 design briefs which capture the most cited and most pressing challenges according to our frontline staff. 

We are aware that in the current climate, without access to for primary research and observation, exploring these challenges in the rigorous way designers are used to will be difficult, if not impossible. We do however trust the intuitiveness, creativity and ingenuity of designers to overcome this and seek alternative means of gaining insight. To assist the process, we have identified a number of ‘healthcare champions’ who will continue to provide insight and answer questions* relating to the specific briefs. We will make answers and additional content available on our website.

We have assembled a group of experts from across healthcare, healthcare innovation and the Design industry to help us select the concepts that best answer each brief and offer desirable, viable, feasible proposals. The two finalists under each brief will have an opportunity to present their ideas and process to HSE leadership and substantial feasibility funding has been set aside to take the concepts, if successful, through to accelerated implementation.  

We are excited to launch this inaugural call and to see the new ideas and thinking that the design and innovation community can bring in this challenging time.



Wishing you luck

The Design on the Frontline team 



Jared Gormly 
HSE Spark Innovation Lead

Alan Hopkins
Doctor / National Innovation Fellow 
HSE Spark Innovation & NDTP

Trevor Vaugh
Founder / Assistant Professor

Maynooth University innovation Lab / Actionable


Neilan Govender
Senior Administrator 

HSE Spark Innovation 


Sharon Lewis
HSE Spark Innovation Team & NDTP

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Spark Innovation




Innovation means bringing any new, problem-solving idea into use and requires an environment where people are empowered to innovate and put ideas into action. The HSE’s Spark Innovation Programme is a frontline-led initiative that encourages healthcare providers to develop and implement their ideas so that we can improve our health service.

The Spark Innovation Programme was initially established in July 2017 as a national programme to encourage, support and recognise innovation among doctors in Ireland and has expanded to Nursing & Midwifery and Health and Social Care Professionals with the support of the National Quality Improvement Team with the ultimate goal of encouraging frontline innovation across our health service.


Actionable are an award winning research, strategy and innovation consultancy. We work with leaders to understand and tackle business challenges, explore opportunity and build innovation capability. We combine our expertise in human insight, research, business intelligence and design thinking, to help our partners understand people and markets, discover and improve offerings, develop exciting strategy and design new ventures. Our clients range from global healthcare companies and sportswear brands, to ambitious SME’s, Government agencies and exciting new ventures.