understanding Medicare member experiences
For one of my consulting projects, I took on a new role as a customer experience strategist. My team worked with a top Medicare Advantage provider (the name is omitted to protect the client and research participants) to help them determine how they might better digitally support their members' post-hospital discharge.
We involved 15 Medicare members and 2 caregivers in the participatory design process. Through remote design sessions and texting homework, we learned about their post-discharge journey, digital habits, and relationship with their health insurer. Our findings informed a strategy deck that helped our client envision digital solutions that meet their members' needs.
Tools: Mural, Zoom, Figma
Skills: participatory design, interviews, research synthesis, personas
Role: researcher, strategist, designer
Time: 12 weeks, Jan - March 2022
PROCESS + ROLE
Review Client Needs
Participatory Design Sessions
Build a Digital Solution
I joined the project after the initial client meetings and interviews with Insurer Nurse Associates. These steps set the foundation for my team's understanding of the post-discharge triage and support process, as well as created initial hypotheses for where members might appreciate digital support from insurer nurses.
I was brought on to plan and conduct the participatory design sessions with insurance members (which I describe below). After the conclusion of the sessions, I stayed on to synthesize our session data into a strategy deck and Meet the Participants deck. The Publicis Sapient side of the project concluded after this step, leaving our client to determine how they would like to use the information in their creation of a digital solution.
Based on the associate interviews, my team determined six themes to explore in the co-design sessions. We aimed to better understand members' experiences in each theme and how we might our client could improve in those areas.
Awareness & Expectations
Members are unaware of insurer-provided care management or its value. They have low expectations of outreach and support.
Social Determinants of Health are key factors in care management and member outcomes, but their burden often falls on members.
Members face medical and logistical complexities at times when they're feeling unwell physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Continuity of Care
Associates get a 'point in time' view of the member's journey, but the care doesn't end there, especially when managing comorbidities.
Digital Access & Appetite
Associates rate digital as the future of care management, despite perceiving members as less digitally engaged than younger groups.
Relationship & Trust
Insurers need to overcome broad misperceptions and distrust to build value-based, longitudinal relationships with members.
Before I joined the project, there was a pre-determined structure for the participatory sessions. Each participating member would participate in two 2-hour co-design sessions and 5 days of texting homework.
The goal of the first co-design session was to learn more about the participant's post-discharge journey and to build rapport with them. The homework and second co-design session would be built along the way based on what we learned from the first session.
Co-design session 1
Co-design session 2
session overview that we provided to participants
DISCUSSION GUIDE QUESTIONS
To build rapport and a foundational understanding of each participant, we started co-design session 1 with an interview. One of my tasks was to prioritize topics, determine which ones could be translated into Mural board stimuli, and figure out how we might gain insights into multiple topics with just one interview question or co-design activity.
We started broad by brainstorming any and every question we might want to ask in each of the 6 ' buckets.' We then prioritized the questions, and I rewrote them to be open-ended and in formats that would spark conversation.
our planning board
MURAL BOARD STIMULI
While simultaneously brainstorming the discussion guide, I took on the role of the Mural Board creator. I brainstormed several different activities that we could use as stimuli in our participatory sessions. I pinpointed which topics could involve participants sorting values and services through lists, charts, and tables. I then made several sample activities that inspired our final stimuli activities.
some of my Mural board stimuli templates
Co-design 1 focused on building rapport with the participants and understanding their post-discharge journey. I was responsible for preparing and personalizing the Mural boards for each participant, as well as note-taking during the sessions.
2 hrs: 45 min interview, 1 hr 15 min Mural activities
18 members, 3 caregivers
Notetaker for 12 sessions
One of the challenges we faced was that not all participants received an insurer nurse call like they had indicated on the screener. As a result, we had to recruit new participants while on a tight timeline.
Activity 1: My Post-Discharge Journey
Activity 2: Mapping My Support
Co-design session 1 Mural board
After the first co-design session, members were asked to engage in 5 days of homework. This homework involved asking a few questions over texts. The goal was to better understand members' daily lives and fill in any gaps in information that we didn't cover in co-design 1.
I wasn't involved in conducting the homework for HIPAA and privacy compliance reasons. However, I was still able to read the transcripts and synthesize the responses with the co-design data. In the meantime, I worked on developing co-design 2.
example transcript that shows how a member engages with their health insurer digitally
Co-design 2 objectives were to have members rank their health and insurer values, to understand their relationship with their insurer, and to test some preliminary digital concepts. Like the first co-design session, I helped inspire the co-design activity stimuli, created individual boards for each participant, and took notes for a majority of the sessions. I also used my UX design expertise to design wireframes that exemplified three concepts of how our client's insurer nurses could improve communication with members based on their reported pain points in co-design 1.
2 hrs of Mural activities and concept testing
15 members, 2 caregivers
Notetaker for 8 sessions
Concept 1: insurer nurse texts before calling and member can select topics to discuss in the call
Concept 2: member uses insurer app to access personalized support
These are a few wireframes demonstrating our proposed concepts.
*Note: wireframes were intentionally simplified to focus on the concept over interaction or visual design*
co-design session 2 mural board
The prior associate interviews, the 2 co-design sessions, and the homework created hundreds of data points that expressed members' desire for increased digital engagement with their health insurers. We included these in a strategy deck that emphasized this need and reviewed opportunities and steps for our client to implement new digital solutions.
Developing strategy is usually outside of the scope of my role and expertise; however, my past experiences in user research enabled me to contribute to data synthesis. Being included in the process was a fantastic opportunity to go beyond UX and learn more about customer experience strategy.
example slide explaining a proposed concept for digital engagement
MEET THE PARTICIPANTS
Alongside the strategy deck, my team made a Meet the Participants deck that included a profile for each participant. I owned the progress of this deliverable. I populated it with data throughout the entire co-design process and supported our healthcare research consultant with the storytelling.
Each participant had 5 sections to their profile:
intro / summary
life + health outlook
digital health (habits, devices, opinions)
how our client can engage the participant
*Notes: all real names and identifying information were removed. Further examples from the slide decks can be provided upon request.*
example slide of a participant's discharge experience
I was brand new to the healthcare industry, so the start of the project had a large learning curve. Throughout the project, I learned a great deal about health insurance, aging, and the digital habits of older folks. It was rewarding to unpack some of the complexities of healthcare and be able to contribute to improving the system for a vulnerable population.
From a skillset standpoint, this project gave me valuable practice in the participatory design process. I worked with members with diverse and complicated backgrounds, health histories, and digital preferences, and I was tasked with synthesizing large sets of data into actionable insights. Further, I had to really understand each participant to create a Meet the Participant slide that differentiated them from the others and really highlighted their personality, attitudes, and needs.
This was my first strategy project, so I gained insights into the intersection between user research, UX design, and customer experience strategy. I learned how to collaborate with colleagues who approach participatory design and data synthesis differently, as well as contributed new ways of thinking to a more senior team.