This is my Innovation-Award-Winning Master’s capstone project in the Human-Centered Design and Engineering program at the University of Washington, sponsored by Microsoft. We designed a new primary care service experience o help patients and providers build strong relationships and enhance overall satisfaction. By employing service design methods, we took a holistic approach to tackle this issue, considering all the actors involved in the healthcare ecosystem.
Jan 2023 - May 2023 (5 months)
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When the collaboration fails, patients feel dismissed and not in control of their own health. The study also shows that the patient's lack of trust and low emotional satisfaction could cause non-adherence to treatment plans, delay seeking care, and negatively affect a patient’s health outcome.
“The emotional connection can be just as important as the medical side.”
- Patient Participant
We designed an innovative end-to-end primary care experience that extends across the entire healthcare journey to ensure patients feel supported throughout. To make this work within the current healthcare system, each service component is designed as a complimentary to add value to the existing services. We also designed an AI-powered patient portal to enhance efficiency and optimize collaboration.
As we designed this new primary care experience, we focused on delivering these four values.
Safe space for patient self-advocacy
Quality care in a short appointment
Accelerated trust & empathy building
Support at all stages of care
Knowing a patient is not just about their medical history, and patients wanted to feel heard and cared for as unique individuals. With our comprehensive profile survey, patients can share more about themselves at a personal level, including their care strategy, communication styles, and special accommodations that their providers need to be aware of.
In the current healthcare system, extending the appointment time was not feasible. So, we introduced the Conversation Guide to help patients scope their needs and bring up concerns prior to their appointment. This gives them room to direct their care and make the most out of the short appointment time.
Providers will receive care strategy advice generated from the Patient Profile Survey and Conversation Guide before entering the appointment. AI will assist in identifying patient needs and their impact on the care strategy, providing skimmable alerts and tailored tips for approaching each patient based on their background and needs. As most American providers' continuing medical education lacks soft skills like cultural sensitivity or empathy, this initiative aims to equip them with friendly reminders.
From here, you can learn about my research and design process.
To make this idea a reality, our sponsor, Microsoft, tasked us with the responsibility of researching and designing a new experience that gives patients and health care providers a better overall, holistic view of a person's well-being.
30+ Literature Review
7 Patient Interviews
7 SME Interviews
Given the expansive nature of the problem at hand, our research began with a comprehensive exploration of the healthcare landscape. We sought to gain insight from all the stakeholders in the ecosystem, including patients, providers, administrators, and others. Our primary objective was to identify the areas of patients' well-being that are currently overlooked within the existing healthcare system.
In order to effectively tackle the complexities of the healthcare sector within our limited timeline, our team conducted thorough scoping to define the specific focus. We targeted patients with chronic illness because they have a significant impact on healthcare and are the best fit for this study since they often need a comprehensive approach due to the complexity of their conditions.
As we analyzed the research results, we developed an ecosystem map and patient journey map to understand the patient's holistic experience and the relationship between actors. They helped us visualize the data and identify the main problem of poor collaboration between patients and providers. We found areas for improvement before and after appointments.
Poor experience in the collaborative decision-making space between patients and providers is a result of patients not being able to communicate their concerns effectively.
The first treatment plan might not always work for patients with complex or severe health conditions, and their journey to recovery could take a long time. That's why patients want to have a healthcare provider who continuously follows up, monitors their progress, and is willing to explore other treatment options as a partner.
During our ideation phase, we invited 3 patients and 3 healthcare providers to our co-design session. We had our participants individually brainstorm what they wanted from their ideal patient-provider relationship, grouped them into themes, then prioritized their top 3 themes. Then, we paired patients and providers together to see what solutions they can create based on the common themes. Below are the 3 themes and their favorite ideas for each theme. After gathering data from the co-design process, we conducted a rapid ideation session within the team and fine-tuned the solution ideas to seamlessly align with the entire health journey.
Training for providers in empathy, understanding the experience of people with chronic illness
A 3 way communication device between a patient, their primary care provider, and the specialist
Tools to help guide the conversation with a checklist incorporating whole person health views
After identifying all the service components of our design solution, we created journey maps for both patients and providers. We mapped out all the touchpoints, to make sure each service is in a logical order and see how they would affect patients' behaviors and emotions. We also created a service blueprint to optimize interactions across all the actors, including patients, providers, admin, and technology.
In our interview research, we discovered that patients have two distinct approaches to their healthcare interactions. Some patients prefer to share extensive information with their healthcare providers, while others opt for a more streamlined, effortless approach. To cater to the diverse needs of both hands-on and hands-off patients, we designed our patient profile survey to be highly flexible. However, it was equally crucial to ensure that healthcare providers gathered essential patient information ahead of appointments. To address this challenge, I categorized the survey elements and created a user flow that strikes a balance between flexibility and control, offering a comprehensive solution for both patient and provider preferences.
While our goal was to give providers a more comprehensive view of patients, users found the survey somewhat lengthy and cumbersome, requiring numerous clicks. To enhance the user experience, I optimized the process by:
Showing one question at a time to minimize the user's cognitive load
Reducing the number of clicks by enabling users to navigate to the next question seamlessly without the need to click the "Next" button. This adjustment significantly reduced survey completion time by 28%.
The intake process doesn't need to be a mundane experience, so I made it a more playful and engaging experience by:
Making the progress bar more prominent and showing the number of remaining questions.
Showing progress and giving a badge when users complete each section
A badge is given after task completion
Our goal was to assist providers in showing more empathy to their patients, but we needed to do it in a way that fits into their already busy work schedules. During the co-design process, participants suggested a "training for providers in empathy" as a solution, but we realized the challenges of implementing it in their current schedules. Instead, we transformed the idea into something more feasible and easy to implement.
I designed the patient overview page with the goal of efficiently sharing AI-processed patient data from the patient profile survey, conversation guide, and care check-in to the care team. I prioritized simplicity and ease of navigation, enabling providers to quickly understand the patient's attributes, emotions, concerns, and requirements, while providing an option for in-depth exploration.
While many providers appreciated the helpfulness and ease of practicing the example phrases, some users mentioned that they needed more diverse and specific examples. I took this as an opportunity to collect user feedback directly from the page and introduced multiple methods for gathering input, including the option to regenerate new tips.
Due to the project's tight timeline, we needed to design the prototypes within a few weeks. To ensure design consistency, I opted to create a minimalistic design system instead of a comprehensive one by including the most crucial aspects of the design elements. This saved us significant time to meet the deadline for the showcase.Design Systems (PNG)
Although we won't have the means to quantitatively assess the real-world impact of our solutions, our expectations are shaped by the feedback we've received, leading us to anticipate:
Our team won the Innovation Award among 30+ graduate teams for collaboratively conceptualizing ideas and designing an innovative primary care experience. Below are the comments from design judges and one of our research participants.
Their service blueprint was highly technical and demonstrated deep knowledge of the problem space. This well-thought-out project is feasible and comprehensive
- Capstone Design Judge
"The design solution made creative use of challenges and constraints, balancing the needs of patients and potential adoption by providers. They created something that could work within existing systems."
- Capstone Design Judge
"I feel so heard from the co-design session! The Survey on Patient Needs is something I would love to actually use. Most times the [medical] intake form has so many useless and irrelevant things where I feel like the actual issue would be missed. And this cuts down to actually actionable info for the doctor."
- Co-Design Participant
If we had more time, there are several areas that we want to to specifically focus on for testing.
We’d like to gradually implement different aspects of our service to see how patients and providers adapt to the changes. This would allow us to accurately measure the impact of each touchpoint, gather feedback, adapt to user needs based on real user experiences.