Health and wellbeing are determined by a number of complex, interrelated factors. The application of design thinking to questions around health may prove valuable and complement existing approaches. A number of public health projects utilizing human centered design (HCD), or design thinking, have recently emerged, but no synthesis of the literature around these exists. The results of a scoping review of current research on human centered design for health outcomes are presented. The review aimed to understand why and how HCD can be valuable in the contexts of health related research. Results identified pertinent literature as well as gaps in information on the use of HCD for public health research, design, implementation and evaluation. A variety of contexts were identified in which design has been used for health. Global health and design thinking have different underlying conceptual models and terminology, creating some inherent tensions, which could be overcome through clear communication and documentation in collaborative projects. The review concludes with lessons learned from the review on how future projects can better integrate design thinking with global health research.