Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Developing design principles for a Virtual Hospice: improving access to care
  1. Andrea Taylor1,
  2. Tara French2 and
  3. Sneha Raman2
  1. 1 School of Design, Glasgow School of Art, Moray, UK
  2. 2 Institute of Design Innovation, Glasgow School of Art, Moray, UK
  1. Correspondence to Andrea Taylor, School of Design, Glasgow School of Art, Moray, UK; a.taylor{at}


Objectives Providing access to hospice services will become increasingly difficult due to the pressures of an ageing population and limited resources. To help address this challenge, a small number of services called Virtual Hospice have been established. This paper presents early-stage design work on a Virtual Hospice to improve access to services provided by a hospice (Highland Hospice) serving a largely remote and rural population in Scotland, UK.

Methods The study was structured as a series of Experience Labs with Highland Hospice staff, healthcare professionals and patients. Experience Labs employ a participatory design approach where participants are placed at the centre of the design process, helping to ensure that the resultant service meets their needs. Data from the Experience Labs were analysed using qualitative thematic analysis and design analysis.

Results A number of themes and barriers to accessing Highland Hospice services were identified. In response, an initial set of seven design principles was developed. Design principles are high-level guidelines that are used to improve prioritisation and decision making during the design process by ensuring alignment with research insights. The design principles were piloted with a group of stakeholders and gained positive feedback.

Conclusions The design principles are intended to guide the ongoing development of the Highland Hospice Virtual Hospice. However, the challenges faced by Highland Hospice in delivering services in a largely remote and rural setting are not unique. The design principles, encompassing digital and non-digital guidelines, or the design approach could be applied by other hospices in the UK or overseas.

  • Virtual hospice
  • hospice
  • end-of-life care
  • palliative care
  • health
  • design methods
  • design principles
  • experience labs.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding The Digital Health & Care Institute, supported by the Scottish Funding Council, funded the project.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Study approval was obtained from the National Research Ethics Service, Research Ethics Committee reference: 15/LO/0744.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement All available data can be obtained by contacting Dr Tara French by email: