015: Navigating Healthcare Complexity: The Importance of Human-Centered Design with Satyan Chari

Episode 15: Navigating Healthcare Complexity: The Importance of Human-Centered Design with Satyan Chari

When the pandemic struck, it revealed opportunities to innovate and improve healthcare systems in different areas of the world. Healthcare was in the spotlight begging for creative solutions.

In this episode of Thriving in Complexity, I chat with Satyan Chari about bridging gaps in healthcare through human-centred design. He is an Occupational Therapist and currently leads the Clinical Excellence Queensland (CEQ) Bridge Labs program which harnesses the benefits of creative design, systems, and human factors science to improve healthcare.

Present healthcare system challenges are very different from the problems of healthcare in the 1980s. System interactions today compel us to create innovative solutions that allow us to look at various healthcare situations through the lens of technical and social complexity.

Satyan does not hold back in sharing his expertise in innovating healthcare, he understands the value of human resilience while working in complexity. Change happens when people are willing to do the work and employ sustainable solutions.


  • What most people don’t know about Satyan (01:27)
  • What Bridge Labs does and how it helps improve healthcare (02:39)
  • The types of projects Satyan’s been involved in (07:49)
  • Design thinking’s influence on the creative work of clinicians (11:05)
  • Expressing leadership in distinct yet helpful ways (16:10)
  • The role of power in changing systems (18:02)
  • The impact of sense-making in complexity (23:27)
  • The importance of having flexibility in policies and managing risks (34:35)
  • Navigating changes in the modern world (44:35)
  • What is resilience engineering and the outcomes it produces (48:40)
  • What does thriving in complexity mean for Satyan? (53:00)


“If we give people the opportunity to think and do in a certain way, they see intuitively the value of connecting on a deeper level with communities and consumers.” – Satyan Chari
“Allowing space for people to be creative is a catalyst for eliciting what might already exist .” – Satyan Chari
“We need to separate the people within the system and who they innately are and how the system forces them to behave.” – Susanne Le Boutillier

“Tap into people’s shared purpose, not shared values, because what they value could potentially be quite different.” – Susanne Le Boutillier


The Queensland Bridge Labs Program: An ecosystem approach to healthcare transformation
John Flach

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Satyan is clinically trained (Occupational Therapy) and received a PhD in patient safety from Monash University in which he researched innovative environmental design (environmental night-lighting) approaches to reduce inpatient falls and improve recovery. Satyan presently leads the CEQ Bridge Labs program which is drawing in creative design, systems and human factors science capabilities into healthcare innovation efforts. Among other roles in Queensland, Satyan was an international human factors fellow with the Medstar Institute for Innovation in Washington DC in 2016 and Visiting Research Scientist at the Health Systems Engineering Institute in Boston, USA in 2015. Satyan has advised globally on healthcare safety, quality and performance innovation programs. Satyan is a vocal advocate for the greater inclusion of human-centred design and systems methods and expertise in major reform and improvement efforts underway in healthcare today.