Kaiser Permanente Innovation Consultancy

Bringing human-centered design to the largest integrated medical provider in the country.

Work done as a service Designer at Kaiser Permanente's Innovation Consultancy

About Kaiser Permanente (KP)

KP is the largest integrated health system in the US providing medical care and insurance coverage. KP has 11.8 million members across 8 states, served by over 200 thousand staff.

About the Innovation Consultancy

The IC is an internal innovation and design team within Kaiser Permanente, we are a storied and evolving team that works to bring joy and simplicity to the complex world of health.

Projects I work on

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Reinventing the financial experience of healthcare
With the rise of high deductible health plans, members are paying more out of pocket for their care than they ever have. This project aimed to understand, envision and test what a member-centric financial experience would look like.

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Exploring the role of small-scale spaces in care delivery
Healthcare systems are known for large medical office buildings that deliver every service under one roof. This model of delivering care is becoming increasingly out of step with the experiences people expect from healthcare. How might we use smaller spaces to provide tailored, streamlined experiences?

My role as a Service Designer

Working at KP requires me to be a generalist designer. I am involved in all stages of the design process, from framing a project, conducting research, prototyping solutions in the field and sharing the work across the company. While I can't go into too much detail about my specific projects, here is a sampling of the methods I use at KP.

Project Framing

My projects are rarely given to the team with a clear focus, the question we're given can be as vague as "how can we improve the member financial experience?" I've spent a signficant amount of time planning project schedules, defining focus areas in wildly complicated problem spaces and even defining team roles that would help the work.

How I've framed projects

Framing Business Design
Description
Sketching out different directions a business design track of work could take on our human-centered design project.
Outcomes
Business case sketches, assumptions and questions to be explored through collaboration with data analysts.
Defining Team Roles
Description
Articulating and making the case for the roles needed to do human-centered design work.
Outcomes
A shared understanding of roles across the team, and adding team members from other parts of KP.
Project Planning
Description
Keeping track of all the tracks of work, deliverables and partner schedules.
Outcomes
Sticking to deadlines, meshing with partner schedules and keeping a clear picture of the different tracks of work.

Research

I use a mix of design research methods to gain insight into member and staff's experiences of problems. The firsthand stories experienced by members and staff infuse empathy across the company and help center design directions in true user needs.

How I've done design research

Inspiration Galleries
Description
A series of mini-posters to build an inspiration gallery of exciting services, within and outside of healthcare.
Outcome
Shared at workshops with KP stakeholders to build energy and broaden thinking about our opportunities.
Desk Research
Description
Scanning news sources, academic research and existing KP work.
Outcome
Rapidly gain an understanding of complex problem spaces and past interventions that have been tried.
Clinic Shadowing
Description
Observing and interviewing staff in their day to day context.
Outcome
An understanding of staff experiences, needs and motivations.
In Home Interviews
Description
Going directly to members' homes to conduct semi-structured interviews for up to 3 hours at a time.
Outcome
Qualitative data about experiences, goals, motivations and problems. Stories, videos, photos and other artifacts to share with stakeholders.

Synthesis

Once we've generated a massive amount of data from our design research, our team has to make sense of it all to determine key stories and design directions. I've used a variety of visualizing and storytelling techniques to bring others into our design process.

How I've done synthesis

Frameworks
Description
Creating visuals to serve as the anchor for large amounts of research data and insights.
Outcome
An overall representation of design research, a rough guide to frame future design work around.
Storytelling Sessions
Description
Gathering stakeholders from across the company to directly hear and experience the stories of members and staff.
Outcome
Increasing empathy for the real world problems experience by patients and care providers.
Scenario Mapping
Description
Illustrating member experiences in the current state that have fallen short.
Outcome
A clearer understanding of the problems members face represented through easy to understand illustrations.
Insight Statements
Description
Synthesizing hours of member interviews and clinic observations into memorable statements and visuals.
Outcome
Starting points to create design concepts that will improve experiences.

Ideation

Once we've generated a massive amount of data from our design research, our team has to make sense of it all to determine key stories and design directions. I've used a variety of visualizing and storytelling techniques to bring others into our design process.

How I've done ideation

Sketching
Description
Sketching is my go to method for quickly thinking through different approaches to a problem.
Outcome
Project room walls covered with concepts and directions that can be used to gather feedback or turn into prototypes to try in the field.
Ideation Workshops
Description
Gathering stakeholders from across KP to collaboratively build ideas for what the future experience could be.
Outcome
Concepts and input from attendees, increasing energy around the project itself.
Sacrifical Concepts
Description
Creating mockups of customer journeys, websites, mood boards, and inspiration for new service concepts to turn ambiguous strategies into concrete offerings.
Outcome
These early concepts are used to develop the point of view on a complicated problem space to help avoid boiling the ocean.
Concept Storyboarding
Description
Telling the story of a new service concept over a series of illustrations.
Outcome
Storyboards helped us communicate the interactions of a service rather than artifacts that only represent one touchpoint.

Prototyping

Concepts may sound good in a corporate office, but fall completely short when tried with members and staff. My personal favorite part of the design process was working in the field to explore, refine and iterate prototype ideas to improve experiences.

How I've prototyped

Prototype Proposals
Description
Developing explanations, defining resources and workflows for prototypes we want to try in the field.
Outcome
A clear articulation of what our team intended to test in the field to gain by in from our clinical partners.
Field Prototyping
Description
Developing tangible design concepts that can be tested with members and staff.
Outcome
Design directions for KP to consider developing further and implementing to improve member and staff experiences.
Co-Creation
Description
Building and refining our prototypes by working directly with staff and members.
Outcome
Prototypes that are shaped by the knowledge and experience of staff experiencing the problems every day.

Project Outcomes

Ultimately, my team is not the group responsible for creating and delivering new experiences to members. Instead, we help these groups take the first steps into wicked problems so that they can take the giant leaps to improve them. The most important outcomes of my projects at KP usually aren't new services provided to members (at least immediately). The work plants the seeds for entirely new strategies and approaches to experiences in healthcare, and shows the dozens of stakeholders involved in our project a new, more empathetic way of working.

Some outcomes of our work

Insights and Opportunities

Our research surfaces key themes and opportunities surrounding the needs and expectations of end users. These findings turn complicated, ambiguous problem spaces into a set of clear design opportunities.
New ways of working

Our inclusive design process enabled staff to work in a radically different way with entirely new people. We presented at 30+ internal shareouts, created a field vlog, and invited visitors to join us in the clinic for research and testing.
Prototypes to develop

Our projects result in prototypes across digital, physical and service touchpoints. Some of our prototypes are so beloved by staff that they're taken on by other groups to develop further and implement in their day to day workflow.

“You almost forget you have live people [experiencing this], and so you hear the real voices and you hear the families walking in, and it just brings us back to remembering that we're dealing with people who need care, and how can we best meet their need? And be empathetic, understanding and simple about it.”

– A Revenue Cycle staff member describing our fieldwork collaboration

Get in touch to learn more

Much of my work at KP involves member stories and strategies that aren't ready for the wilds of the internet. Reach out if you're interested in seeing more specific aspects of my work at KP.