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Embedding Human-Centered Design and LHS Research in the Transplantation System

Dr Cory Schaffhausen

Cory Schaffhausen, PhD, a Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute (HHRI) investigator, was recently featured in the University of Minnesota School of Public Health news where he discussed using the Learning Health System (LHS) model to design a tool to support the organ transplant decision process.

Dr. Schaffhausen stated that the current process for matching an organ to a patient is not very patient-friendly, which led him to his research and design project, Embedding Human-Centered Design and Learning Health System Research in the Transplantation System.

The Minnesota Learning Health System Mentored Career Development Program (MN-LHS) supported Dr. Schaffhausen’s project. The MN-LHS, a collaboration among the University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic, Hennepin Healthcare and six other clinical sites, supports scholars embedded within health systems to give insights and evidence to expedite improving patient issues and health system performance.

“When you’re within a system and interacting with all the different stakeholders to learn what they’re doing and what they need, it’s easier to create a solution that the system can sustain than if you’re sitting in a research lab and reading papers,” notes Schaffhausen.

Dr. Schaffhausen had already collaborated with the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) to refine how information is displayed on their website. In conducting patient interviews for that work, he realized that providing better support to patients navigating the organ transplant decision process would be beneficial.

With the support of the MN-LHS program, Dr. Schaffhausen was able to begin his research and design project with a series of focus groups involving medical professionals who served as point people for organ transplant recipients. From the ideas and feedback on how current patient education materials could be enhanced, Dr. Schaffhausen worked with a developer and designer to develop a simple prototype designed to look like a web page. Patients gave feedback as to what was helpful or confusing.

Patients and practitioners gave positive feedback on what became a working website called the Organ Offer Guide that prepares patients and family for an organ offer and helps them make a decision. SRTR will host the Organ Offer Guide on their website with other patient resources when the decision tool is finalized.

Thanks to the LSH model of embedding research into healthcare systems, patient-centered research and design will help reduce barriers to successful outcomes for patients and their families.

Read the full story on the University of Minnesota School of Public Health website:

Embedding Human-Centered Design and LHS Research in the Transplantation System – School of Public Health – University of Minnesota (

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