January 2015 - March 2015
The cost of healthcare has only moved in one direction: up. Interested groups from practitioners, to insurers, to patient advocacy groups are working to find cost-saving strategies in this critical and complicated arena. Premera Blue Cross partnered with the MHCI+D program to solicit fresh thinking, tasking student teams to imagine means of connecting the rising tide of individual buyers to new kinds of service. In reviewing the literature describing the big problems of healthcare I came across repeat mentions of waste as a result of unneccessary emergency room visits. How could design bring healthcare to the people who need it, efficiently and appropriately?
My team conducted a scenario analysis of events which might cause a patient to seek a new doctor or facility. Compared against traits common in how medical professionals present themselves online we developed a sense for the greatest audience opportunity, focusing on situations when patients are away from or don't yet have a source of primary care, like moving to new city or falling ill on vacation. In theses instances the combination of unfamiliarity with the environment and a lack of established support lead many non-emergency patients to the ER.
With this focus in place I began illustrating the interactions our app would support. Two central questions emerged. As someone ill or injured in unfamiliar territory I want to know the following: "What is wrong with me?", and, "Who is around me who can help?". Access to information is critical to answering both. I
We had some of the essential interactions mapped, but in order to make sure we were producing something that reflected the real world we needed a good story. We talked to friends and colleagues about their experiences seeking out care in similar situations and synthesized those into a meta-narrative capturing the actions of the user, actions of the product, and relationships to underlying data systems.
Below is the final prototype I delivered. In this concept a user is presented with nearby options for either private practice care or local clinics, and given estimated wait times or next available appointments. Records and history are managed and forwarded by the system in either case, providing continuity of care even in far off places. Integrations with ride-sharing and task-fulfillment apps remove other points of friction in the process of receiving care and recuperating. Shortly after this work was completed Yelp introduced a feature publishing estimated wait times at clinics and hospitals in its app.