– Hi, I’m Joe Welinske, and I’m the program manager for Convey UX, and that’s Seattle’s annual User Experience Conference. And that’s coming up March 3rd, 4th, and 5th of 2020. And it’s going to be our eighth annual event. So we’ve done seven of ’em. We’re coming up on number eight, so we’re really excited about that. It’s produced by Blink, and Blink’s been a long time member of the research and design community in the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest, and now with offices all over the place. And so we’re really happy to be doing this conference once again. One of the fun things I get to do is to talk about our many speakers. And today I’m talking with Allison Matthews. Hello, Allison, how are you doing?

– Hi, good, how are you?

– Yeah, it’s real good. We have a pretty decent day here in downtown Seattle. Where are you talking to us from?

– I’m at Rochester, Minnesota, at the Mayo Clinic.

– Well, why don’t you talk a little bit about your background and the types of things that you do at the Mayo Clinic.

– So I have an unusual background, in that, in college I majored in criminology and law studies. Then I decided to go to medical school. So I went to Mayo medical school. Then I decided I didn’t want to be a doctor, and I got my master’s in architecture. And graduating in the recession, I ended up at the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation, where we’re an internal service design consultancy, where we work to help improve the experience that anyone has with healthcare. So we can improve the patient experience. We can improve the staff experience. So as service lines come up for kind of renewal or refreshment, or a new service line comes up, we design what it feels like to move through the healthcare system.

– Well, I think this is particularly interesting because it’s not, it’s you within that organization embedded, obviously, be having a lot of control and access that probably provides some challenges but also a lot of opportunities for, you know, for work, for doing the work that you do.

– Yes, we have incredible access to patients, especially. We make a joke that says that if I say I want to see a heart transplant tomorrow, I can be in a heart transplant, and probably at home with a patient as they’re preparing for their appointment, with them to the appointments, and then hanging out with their family afterwards. So, we have incredible access, but it also makes for interesting challenges is how do you get to the person who’s not a patient yet. So we can get to the people who are already patients, but how do we get to the people who are considering it. So there are advantages and challenges all over the place.

– Well, are there any new challenges or new opportunities that you’re working on that you want to share with us?

– Yeah, so we are starting a new project where we’re looking at how we can impact the entire healthcare system at Mayo Clinic. We have many, many specialties and sub-specialties, and so we get to look at how we can impact those things. Primarily because healthcare is changing so dramatically, we’re seeing changes in how we’re reimbursed, so different insurance models, and different reimbursement models with the election coming up, looking at, you know, do we have a universal payer. And we’re also seeing patients acting more like consumers. So how do we start to capture what the patient wants rather than what we think that they should always have. It’s moving from a paternalistic system that healthcare has kind of always been to how do we embrace the goals and the needs of the individual.

– And how are things set up with you and your colleagues? How is the kind of the research, design, development set up at Mayo?

– Yeah, the one nice thing about being embedded is that we’re fairly scrappy, so it’s the setup isn’t always consistent. We always have a team that includes a designer, a person called an innovation coordinator who knows everything about the system, and a project manager. And then we’re able got get in and get out of projects at different paces. So if sometimes we might run a quick workshop and set up something to help the teams to understand what they need to know to change their service lines, and sometimes it’s a years long project where we work together with a clinical team to either build a new space or develop a completely new process, and we stay embedded with them for the long term. So it changes day to day, the kind of work that we do.

– Well, let’s talk a little bit about, the topic is fairly broad, titled “Designing For The Patient”. Talk a little bit about what you expect to be presenting to us, what we can take away from it.

– Yeah, well, I said earlier that we’re seeing patients move to a more consumer-like mindset, but it also is a really kind of strange space where you’re in a place where you, nobody really wants to engage with healthcare, you have to. You don’t know the prices. You don’t know how to ask the right questions or what questions you should even ask. You don’t know necessarily what the person who you’re working with, the expert, even knows or doesn’t know. And so as we design for the patient, we start to bring in these concepts that look a little bit different than in a more traditional consumer mindset. So how do we bring the patient up to level where they can be an equal player within healthcare decision making as well as how do we design services that meet the patient needs rather than just react to what the providers want to provide. So, traditionally in healthcare, you know, the doctors set the times that they want to be available. They set the ways that you can talk to them. And we’re seeing now that patients are saying, “This isn’t meeting my needs. “I need you at 2 am via text message.” So how do you design a system that goes to that. So I’ll be talking about principles that we are beginning to embed and all of the processes that we design and create that respond more to the patients as an individual rather than a cohort of people who need healthcare.

– Well, I, it really sounds like it’s gonna be an interesting topic to hear from you. Now one of the things that first comes to mind with me or just personally or friends and colleagues in the healthcare system is that I just, you know, the first thing that I think about is how you’re able to factor in or work with what are a lot of, you know, bureaucratic and significant price issues. In a lot of parts of consumer design we’re able to be, you know, to not necessarily have to worry about that maybe at to the same level that you are. So I was just curious, you know, how that, you know, if that manifests itself as a challenge in what you do.

– Oh, on a daily basis. I think there’s so many times where we look at a system and recognize that it isn’t designed particularly well for a reason that’s completely outside of our control. But on the other hand, I think if we take the more optimistic approach, I think all good design works within constraint. And so what we try to do is really define very specifically what are those constraints that are fixed and unmovable and what are those constraints that we can probably push on. Especially we can compel our institution or our government to push on to change a little bit or we can run a pilot project that can move things along a little bit more quickly. So the constraints are always there, and they’re always very challenging. And so on one level, we try to work within them and make the best system possible, but on another level, we try to always be making a commentary about how a system could be better and that the bureaucratic kind of lanes that have been created for us don’t make as much sense as they may have when they were initially put into place.

– Well, this is gonna be a lot of fun to hear you talk about this. I’m sure there’ll be some good discussion. So look forward to having you on your visit from Rochester and seeing you here in Seattle in March.

– I can’t wait, I’m looking forward to it.