Thumbnail picture

Reimagining a primary care service that fosters patient-provider relationships

Building strong patient-provider relationships plays a crucial role in enhancing patient satisfaction throughout their healthcare journey. To address this, we designed an end-to-end primary care service experience that fosters connections between patients and providers. By employing service design methods, we took a holistic approach to tackle this issue, considering all the actors involved in the healthcare ecosystem.

This is my Master’s capstone project in the Human-Centered Design and Engineering program at the University of Washington, sponsored by Microsoft.

My Role & Contributions

Design Lead

  • Conducted research (literature review, patient & provider interviews, co-design workshop)
  • Crafted design artifacts (ecosystem map, journey map, service blueprint)
  • Wireframed & prototyped for the patient portal
  • Created UI style guide and components
  • Edited the video prototype


Michelle Le, Jalia Evans, Kaitlyn Zhang


Jan 2023 - May 2023 (5 months)


Figma, Premiere Pro


Patients need more collaborative relationships with their providers in order to navigate their long-term healthcare journey.

Patients and providers both value collaboration, but the current healthcare system’s constraints toward optimization make personalized, quality care hard to achieve. 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.

Patient & provider image

How might we help patients cultivate better patient-provider relationships in the current healthcare system?

“The emotional connection can be just as important as the medical side.”

- Patient Participant


A primary care service that connects patients and providers emotionally, educationally, and logistically via an AI-powered patient portal

Prototype mockup image

To ensure patients feel supported throughout, we designed an innovative end-to-end primary care experience that extends across the entire healthcare journey. 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 in the current healthcare system.

Values Delivered

Check Icon

Patient self-advocacy

Check icon

Accelerated trust & empathy building

Check Icon

Quality care in a short appointment

Check Icon

Support at all stages of care

Service Flow

Service Flow

Video Prototype



Understanding a patient at a personal level

Knowing a patient is not just about their medical history. With Survey on Patient Needs, 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.


Humanizing providers and setting patients' expectations

As a part of patient onboarding, we provide educational videos to help patients learn about the general medical process and the providers. It helps them set realistic expectations about the healthcare process and how to best communicate with their providers and admins. It also aims to humanize providers and encourage patients’ empathy for them by enabling them to learn about the constraints that healthcare workers deal with.

Educational Video Prototype


Helping patients prepare and maximize short appointments

As appointment assistance, the conversation guide helps 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.


Empowering providers to enhance bedside manner and deliver personalized care

Providers will receive awareness alerts generated from the patient survey 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.

Provider Awareness Alerts and Tips


Monitoring patient's mental status and satisfaction levels to ensure emotional support

To tackle the issue of patients feeling isolated and unsupported between appointments, we have introduced Care Check-in, a service that provides emotional and logistical support. Collaborative Feedback is a key feature, offering a visual timeline and summary to monitor patients' emotional well-being and satisfaction with their primary-care relationship and treatment plan. Patients can easily communicate updates on their treatment to their providers and request any necessary changes. By addressing these gaps, we aim to reduce the risk of medical errors and patient harm during these critical periods.

Care Check-In Prototype



"Healthcare is not just treating symptoms or disease. It is about treating human beings."

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.

medication image

Research Overview

30+ Literature Review

7 Patient Interviews

7 SME Interviews

Understanding of the healthcare ecosystem

The primary goal of this research was to understand the healthcare landscape from the perspective of all the actors involved in the ecosystem (patients, providers, admin, etc.) and identify what aspects of patients' well-being are disregarded in the current healthcare system.

Targeting people with chronic illness

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.

"I want my doctor to be a very interested listener and show up like my parter. I like to look at various pathways, and we choose the pathway together."

- Patient Participant

Key Findings

A patient-provider relationship plays a vital role in supporting patient's emotional well-being.

We found that the relationships with healthcare providers had a significant influence on our patient participants' emotional satisfaction, both positively and negatively. Key to a successful relationship was collaboration and trust. Study shows that patients who have more trust in their providers are more likely to follow the care plan suggested by their providers, and lack of trust and low emotional satisfaction could also negatively affect a patient’s health outcome. 

types of well-being

Types of well-being

Identifying the root cause of poor collaboration

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.

error icon

Communicating Concerns

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.

journey map image
error icon

Continuing Care

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.

journey map image
ecosystem Map

Opportunity Space

Through extensive research on effective collaboration between patients and healthcare providers, we pinpointed four areas with the potential to enhance the current healthcare experience.

self-advocate icon

Not enough room for patient self-advocacy

Heart icon

Lack of emotional connections

support icon

Insufficient post-appointment support

laptop icon

Limitations of the current patient portal


Co-design workshop to give people a voice in shaping solutions

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.

book illustration

Emotional Connection

Training for providers in empathy, understanding the experience of people with chronic illness

sync illustration

Coordinating Care

A 3 way communication device between a patient, their primary care provider, and the specialist

checklist illustration

Care for All Aspects of Health

Tools to help guide the conversation with a checklist incorporating whole person health views

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.

co-design workshop pictures


Making intangible services visible with service design artifacts.

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.

Patient Journey Maps

patient journey mapPatient Journey Map (PDF)

Provider Journey Map

provider journey mapProvider Journey Map (PDF)

Service Blueprint

service blueprintService Blueprint (PDF)

Design Challenges

Addressing value tensions with an actionable empathy guide for providers that fits in the current healthcare system

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.

error icon

Provider Empathy Training

  • Hard to incorporate hours of trainings into providers' busy schedule
  • The information is generalized
  • Hard to apply what they've learned into practice immediately
error icon

Provider Awareness Alerts & Tips

  • Providers can quickly skim the bite-size alerts before meeting a patient
  • The information is tailored to each patient's background and needs
  • The information is actionable, easy to readily practice in real life
provider alerts & tips design anatomy

Accommodating patients with different needs with personalization, customization & multimodal design.

In our research, we found that patients have varied approaches to healthcare and place importance on different aspects of their health and well-being. It was crucial for us to make our solution accessible to people with diverse preferences and needs. To achieve this, we included flexible and customizable features in our design and also integrated non-digital options.


We made the Survey on Patient Needs more flexible, allowing patients to adjust it according to their preferences. They can choose to share information about the categories that matter most to them or their care team needs to be aware of. This will be beneficial for hands-off patients who prefer a less demanding approach and want to avoid excessive mental burden.

customization design image

3. Multimodal Design

Non-digital Alternatives

To ensure the accessibility of our service, recognizing that not everyone has access to technology, we created a physical version of the Survey on Patient Needs and Conversation Guide that patients can fill out at the clinic.

paper prototype image

Voice Typing

I included this feature to make it more inclusive and accessible for patients with physical disabilities, language barriers, or learning differences. It will also save time and make the process more efficient for all users.

voice typing feature image


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:

  • Increase in overall patient satisfaction
  • Increase patient retention and loyalty
  • Better treatment adherence & recovery rate


Winning the Innovation Award

Successful Collaboration

"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

Comprehensive Approach

"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

Balancing user needs and business objectives

"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

Next Steps

Test & Improve

If we had more time, there are several areas that we want to to specifically focus on for testing.

  • Test level of trust from patients and see if there’s positive impacts between healthcare instutitions and providers
  • Test usability of the Patient Survey, Conversation Guide, and Care Check-In
  • Test and evaluate the practicality and scannability of information for healthcare providers

Gradual Implementation

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.