Reimagining a primary care service that fosters patient-provider relationships

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.

My Role & Contribution

Design Lead

  • Research (literature review, interviews, co-design workshop)
  • Service design artifacts (ecosystem map, journey map, service blueprint)
  • User-flow, wireframes, mid & hi-fi prototypes
  • UI style guide development
  • Video prototype editing

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Jan 2023 - May 2023 (5 months)


1 researcher
1 designer
1 engineer


Figma, Premiere Pro



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

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 with an AI-powered patient portal

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.


Service FlowWork Flow (PDF)

Value Delivered

As we designed this new primary care experience, we focused on delivering these four values.

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Safe space for patient self-advocacy

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Quality care in a short appointment

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Accelerated trust & empathy building

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Support at all stages of care

Service Components
& Prototypes

1. Understanding a patient at a personal level with the Patient Profile Survey

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.

2. Helping patients prepare and maximize short appointments with the Conversation Guide

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.

3. Empowering providers to enhance bedside manner and deliver personalized care with the Provider Awareness Alerts & Tips

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.


"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.

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Research Overview

30+ Literature Review

7 Patient Interviews

7 SME Interviews

Understanding of the healthcare ecosystem

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.

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

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.

ecosystem Map
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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
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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.

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What made collaboration hard to achieve?

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Not enough room for patient self-advocacy

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Lack of emotional connections

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Insufficient post-appointment support

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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. 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.

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Emotional Connection

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

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Coordinating Care

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

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Care for All Aspects of Health

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

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 map
Patient Journey Map (PDF)Provider Journey Map (PDF)

Service Blueprint

service blueprint
Service Blueprint (PDF)

How I optimized the Patient Profile Survey experience

1. Balancing flexibility and control in patient intake workflow to accommodate different patients' needs

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.

2. Reduced user clicks and cognitive effort made the process easy and efficient

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:

Original design

New design

3. Leveraging gamification to entice users to complete the profile

The intake process doesn't need to be a mundane experience, so I made it a more playful and engaging experience by:

Progress bar

A badge is given after task completion

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.

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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
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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

One-Stop Overview Page for Patient Information

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.

Bite-size, actionable conversation tips tailored to each patient

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.

Design Systems

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 SystemDesign 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:

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

The Innovation Award

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.

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

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

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.

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if you want to learn more about my projects, give feedback, or work on an exciting project together!