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Healthcare System Service Design

Designing for one of the largest healthcare systems in the US

Three projects from my employment with Ascension Studio's Strategic Design team.

Project 1

Transitions in Care

My Involvement

6 months

My Contributions

Secondary & Primary Research,

Workshop Facilitation,

Concept Synthesis & Development,



Lincoln Neiger,

Andrew Do,

Pam Nyberg,

Rose Lewis

The goal of this project was to Identify gaps and root causes for Ascension’s fragmented post-acute/at-home care experience, with a special emphasis on seniors and their families. Care transition sites/providers of interest included Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities, Skilled Nursing Facilities, Home Health, and PCPs.

I was still an employee of The Design Institute for Health for this project. Our team were brought on as contractors to support Ascension's Strategic Design team. After the completion of this project Ascension recruited me officially, ending my Design Institute for Health chapter.

Secondary Research & Mapping

We collected and consolidated previous research conducted by our organization and created a current state map.

On-site Research

We conducted on-site ethnographic observational research at 6 acute and post-acute care facilities across two states: Michigan and Indiana.

Primary Research

  • 38 in-person interviews with front-line staff

  • 27 virtual interviews with administrative staff

  • 9 patient interviews

  • 4 virtual ideation workshops with leadership & frontline staff

Leveraging My Specialty

During this project, I had the opportunity to flex my mapping skills. I was in charge of creating detailed current state process maps that illustrated the complexities of discharge planning and the related pain points at each stage of the journey.

Project Delivery

Based on research findings, 33 recommendations are being proposed which weren't fully addressed elsewhere. These included both near-term “no regrets moves” and new concepts which focus on unaddressed areas of opportunity but require further discovery to validate and design.

Recommendations included changes in process, policy, partnerships, and technology.

The detailed current state process flow and system pain points maps that I was solely responsible for

were also part of the final deliverables.

Project 2

Private Practice

My Involvement

4 months

My Contributions

Secondary Research,

Workshop Facilitation,

Concept Synthesis & Development,

Concept Illustrations


Christine Chastain,

Ted Pollari,

Pam Nyberg,

Bryn Robertson,

Marilyn Frank

Surgery is Ascension’s economic engine, with elective surgery being one of

Ascension’s biggest business opportunities. This critical project focuses on better understanding the private practice surgeon's journey with Ascension and iteratively developing concepts to improve their experience so they continue to choose Ascension as a place to bring their surgical cases.

Primary Research

  • 15 surgeons (representing general surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedics) interviewed.

  • 17 surgical services administrative and operational leaders interviewed.

  • 6 hospital surgical departments visited across
    4 states: Indiana, Kansas, Florida, and Tennessee.
    (I was not part of this phase
    of the project).

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Concept Co-Creation

We hosted an insights share-out and and concept ideation workshop to identify independent surgeon / staff experience improvement opportunities with cross-functional partners. Generated concepts were synthesized, visualized, and shared back with project partners in order to further develop the operational details and needs.

Next Steps

Five concepts are being prioritized for pilot testing in select hospital surgical departments. Local solutions from Ascension's network of hospitals are being recognized, elevated, and systematically shared for greater adoption.

I was solely responsible for the creation of the illustrations that brought the prioritized concepts to life. I elevated my illustration practice by utilizing AI-generated images that were combined(photo-bashed) together in Photoshop and blended with digital painting.

Project 3

Avoidable Emergency Department

My Involvement

7 months

My Contributions

Primary & Secondary Research,

Workshop Facilitation,

Solution Development,



Joanne Mendel,

Christine Chastain,

Pam Nyberg

Ascension's Community Impact Department engaged the Strategic Design team to engage in a research and design effort focused on supporting Medicaid and uninsured/self-pay patients, enabling them to more effectively manage their health while also reducing avoidable emergency department visits.

Secondary Research & Mapping

We conducted both an internal and external literature review to identify best practices, establish baseline knowledge, incorporate learnings from past research, and map them across the emergency department journey and other adjacent care settings.

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SME Interviews

Conducted interviews with 15 Subject Matter Experts (SME) who specialize in different aspects of avoidable ED visits and the continuum of care. 

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Patient Research

  • 15 remote interviews

  • 21 7-day consumer diary studies

  • 8 in-person interviews and ethnographic observations


Community Immersions

  • 4 community organization site visits and interviews

  • 3 emergency department site visits and observations

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Care Journey Archetypes

Based on our research we created several patient archetype and use cases across the entire continuum of care settings and modalities.

Human Stories

I drew storyboards for each patient archetype to emphasize significant moments and experience pain points, while also introducing a human element to what would otherwise be a population health level abstraction.


Ideation Workshop

Concepts were generated during a full-day

in-person cross-functional ideation workshop. 

We refined workshop concepts and highlighted key program elements including features, benefits, and impacts.

Program Development

We met with leaders critical to implementing specific programs and solicited feedback for program refinement and the next steps for moving programs forward. We partnered with Steering Committee leaders and their delegates to prioritize concepts for roadmapping.

Next Steps

The systemwide Chief Clinical Officer (CCO) instructed market CCOs and Ministry Market Executives (MME) to form cross-functional teams and begin work on prioritized initiativesThe project steering committee is also generating a playbook for markets.

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