Designing Bots for Resistance

It's been over a year since I posted last! I've been busy working on many new projects, and expanding my design practice outside of my normal 9-5 work schedule.

One of the projects I'm most excited about is designing a series of workshops and conference presentations on designing chatbots for political resistance. You've likely interacted with a political chatbot or read about them, and might be stumped on how to design one for yourself. The reality is, as conversational mediums grow, free and easy tools to build your own chat interfaces are more prevalent. I want to teach users how to not only use these tools, but have the political and ethical framework to design for sensitive situations. 

I'll update more as the dates of my presentations come closer. Until then! 

Comedy Writing

I've recently enrolled in a comedy writing class at the famous Second City in Chicago, and I'm really excited for what lessons this experience will bring. 

In my life in Chicago, I've developed into somewhat of an introvert - someone who has grown nervous and apprehensive of being outward when interacting with others. This rears its head especially when I'm speaking with new people, or working on new projects with collaborators with very different personalities than my own.

I hope the study of writing for the stage will give me more confidence, allow me to access my creative ideas more fully, and ultimately break me out of my new introverted shell. 

Updates to come... 

Podcasts I'm Currently Listening To

Sometimes while I work in my office in Chicago, I yearn for connections with creators and makers doing amazing things all over the country. It's part of my design mind - how can I connect what I'm doing to a greater network of people making change? 

For me, listening to creative podcasts throughout the week help keep me grounded, focused, and inspired. From women bringing diverse perspectives to media, to makers in Michigan creating handmade goods - all of these people bring me inspiration and make me hopeful for how design can impact the world in positive ways. 

Here's what I'm currently listening to: 


Film Photography Adventures

Finally getting around to developing and processing photos from this Summer's trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan...

I spent almost a week camping and exploring tiny copper towns along the shores of Lake Superior this July. The trip was amazing, and definitely inspired a deep homesickness. I hope all of the rest of my summers are filled with trips to the Great Lakes. 



Total Joint Transition Series

I've been working on a new series of outreach calls to patients that have just undergone Total Joint Surgery. While this procedure is fairly straightforward and patients have a high rate of total recovery, some patients find it confusing to get the important information they need post-surgery. 

To learn more about the problems these patients face - I interviewed them. Lots of them. I learned a great deal about the many different experiences people have when home recovering: whether it be that they stayed in an inpatient setting to get quality care, or they rested at home and got back to work as quickly as possible. Some patients had life altering complications that were unavoidable, and others healed quickly and felt better than before. These diverse experiences will inform the way I provide information on these calls, and know better what problems to identify that patients might be having early on. 

All of this information will be reported back to patients' doctors and care teams to take action on immediately if needed. I've interviewed clinicians and therapists about what types of information are important to know early on. 

I'm excited to dig deeper into the research for this project, and develop an outreach call that significantly improves the access to information for patients that receive it. I hope to reduce patient anxiety and confusion during recovery, and lead them to get back to their healthy lives. 

Designing Better Virtual Visits

Originally posted on the Emmi Patient Engagement Blog:

For example, patients often forget what they learn from their doctor, with no way to easily ask questions at a later time. By exploring this deficit further, and interviewing patients about the challenges they face when they don’t have easy access to their doctor, we can challenge the ways digital experiences can supplement or solve these communication pitfalls. We can build solutions to solve many of the issues that couldn’t have been addressed on a large scale before. Long wait times, accessibility issues for patients getting to the office, and ways to view live clips of your doctor’s recommendations for a later time are all new unprecedented capabilities to be explored.

Additionally, providers spend a great deal of time dealing with patients who often have minor issues that can be solved at a quick glance. Now that we’ve established that these visits cost less, how might this interactivity in care allow patients to take a more active role in their health? How might patients find it easier to manage and keep track of their conditions once their diagnoses are digitized?

These types of questions are essential when building these new virtual offerings, so that we can be sure we’re designing solutions that are intuitive, trustworthy, and will be readily adopted by the public.

Moving Forward

Studies like these, while small, show that a gap between current patient demand and provider offerings is widening. While we have the money and resources to create cost-effective and efficient solutions, if patients aren’t comfortable or excited about these products then no lasting solution will have been found.

By harnessing the potential of digital tools and looking forward at the ways we can solve problems in new ways, we can better understand how patients can benefit from these digital tools. Moving forward, understanding human behaviors and motivations will be essential to designing virtual visit tools that will be well liked and utilized by the public. Studies like this one are important to replicate often and with many different demographics - the more we can understand why patients are uncomfortable with the digital experience, we can better harness its capabilities for shifting the way we think about in-office healthcare today.

Designing Healthcare Solutions with Patients in Mind

Originally posted on the Emmi Patient Engagement Blog:

Many of the experiences we face as patients in the healthcare system are not user-friendly. Instead, we face an overwhelming number of barriers in a confusing system. But, there are many ways technology has made this easier and has empowered us to take a more active role in our health. We can use apps to track our calories, we can refill our prescriptions on our iPad, and we can even get on-demand access to a personal health coach. These hardly scratch the surface of how technology is changing and will continue to change our experiences with healthcare.

Not only do these solutions make our experiences with healthcare less overwhelming, they often make it easier for us to understand and engage with our health. Behind all of these innovative solutions, you will find a user experience designer -- someone who has identified a problem in the world and worked to make it easier to accomplish. At the core, this is what a user-experience designer is passionate about: understanding problems people face, and finding great solutions to solve them.

When addressing some of the most difficult challenges patients face in healthcare, user experience designers consider an array of issues that patients might experience. But could we be more effective if we got this input from patients directly?

Better Tech Experiences from User Input

To approach these challenges, some firms are getting patient input in new ways. IDEO, an award winning design firm based in Palo Alto, has been designing thoughtful experiences and solutions for many different sectors, especially healthcare. Beginning with the first computer mouse for Apple – now the company develops a variety of projects: from redesigning heart defibrillators andcreating online birth control support networksto designing headbands to keep us mindful. Part of their success lies in the fact that they actively seek out the advice and input of real patients. Most recently, the team acquired the valuable skills of their newest designer, 91 year old Barbara Beskind.

Barbara Beskind has been working at IDEO for 2 years; she comes in once a week on Thursdays to the Silicon Valley office, equipped with a walker and eyewear she designed herself. While in the office Barbara says she feels “30 years younger” and finally gets to live out her dream of becoming an inventor. She’s able to bring her perspective into their understanding of healthcare, and gives indispensable insight on the development of products for the aging. For Barbara’s full story, check out her coverage on USA Today and her recent story on NPR’s All Things Considered.

In technology, no matter if we’re designing for elderly, middle aged, or young patients, it’s important to remember to integrate perspective from our own experience as patients while continuing to consider the unique experiences of others. When Beskind’s in the room, the young IDEO designers think differently as Barbara helps bring real perspective to their ideas. Her life of experience as a nurse, an inventor, and a 91 year old all help to give insight into the product development that wasn’t there before. With her guidance, the young designers ultimately make products that work better for the patients they aim to help.

The critically important part of building any kind of healthcare solution is to get the feedback and input of those that will use it. This in turn will result in better products that make a real impact in the lives of people. We can’t design in a vacuum, and we need to know how people want to use a product before we can perfect it. Barbara Beskind and the IDEO team are doing inspiring work that all user experience designers can look up to. I will be happy if I can continue to design things that improve our world when I'm 91.