The Healthcare Service Design Rollercoaster

Since 2011 I’ve wanted to take on a healthcare service design project and last year I finally made it happen. We’re nearly at the end of a year long pro bono project to redesign a holistic health center in Manhattan. It’s been the most challenging project of my life. It all started with trying to find a client. We spoke to a number of clients including hospitals and addiction centers, but we ran into issues with HIPPA and finding the right fit for our vision. We wanted to have full purvey over all aspects of the design from the physical space to technology to the way the staff interacts with patients.

Once we found a great client, we conducted initial secondary research into their target audience and the landscape. We then conducted ethnography, becoming secret shopper patients of the practice. It took a ton of work on the part of the wonderful staff to make this happen without any of the practioners blowing our cover.

The ethnography uncovered patient expectations and gaps that we mapped in an exercise along with the competitor’s capabilities and the patient journey. We presented this to the client and then ran a blueprint session with them. After the blueprint session, our client was understandably having trouble making sense of the vast amount of solutions we uncovered.

This led us to explore value planning, and while we did not employ the full method we used a light version that mapped the solutions to value for the business, user, and by feasibility. This helped our clients focus on the key solutions to move forward with. We’re now in the process of rebranding the healthcare center and developing a number of solutions for them. They’ve already implemented a few of our suggestions which is exciting to see. 

It’s been a great learning experience and has definitely taken longer than we ever imagined. We’re wrapping it up this quarter and the full case study will come soon so stay tuned!


Welcome to

Hi, I’m Jen Maroney. I design experiences that help people live better lives. I’m also an expert in creative brainstorming, a writer, and an artist.


Ease of Use vs. Wanting

“Still the wanting comes in waves” – The Decemberists

I’m at a place at my organization where usability testing has become the norm, we have our own in-house lab, and the demand for the services is extremely high. I should be sitting on my perch celebrating right now, so why do I still have nagging doubts? What’s missing in this ideal scenario (that many User Experience practitioners are not blessed with)?

Usability testing is great at uncovering areas where users get stuck or confused, and we’ve made wonderful incremental improvements to many of our products this way. I’d hate to think what would have been released without it. But usability testing doesn’t uncover whether the users will want to use the product. How can we get there?

I’m super excited about the prospect of Eye Tribe’s new product which debuted at CES 2015, the world’s first $99 Eye Tracker. While there is definitely some development involved in getting this up and running, an affordable way to provide these insights to clients would be a true game changer. I want to be able to tell my clients, not only will your product be easy to use but users will want to download it, will want to stick with it, will keep coming back and (hopefully) tell their friends about it.

I’m not saying eye tracking can do all of these things, and I’d like to combine it with either mobile or true ethnography to get a true sense of how a product truly fits into users’ lives in a dynamic way. In an ideal world I’d have a setup where we can detect deep data like heart rates and sweating to get a sense of their engagement with products. I want to bring a much more scientific approach to usability testing, but the cost of doing so, so far, has been a major barrier. I’m so excited that it seems that this barrier is starting break down right before our eyes in 2015.


UX: Intuition and Science

Often I’m asked what I look for in UX talent, and of course everyone wants a unicorn who has delved into every aspect of digital development, but there are two core traits I look for above everything else. The first is a real passion for the scientific method, which translates into any number of tools in our field such as interviewing users or usability testing. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, but an excitement as well as patience for the method will take you far. A great deal of insight and strategic direction is revealed when you set up an experiment, conduct it, synthesize the learnings, and report back the findings.

The next core trait, and where it gets fun, is coming up with the solution from a deeply creative place from within. This is where the intuitive UX practitioner will shine. It’s taking all of the raw findings and intuitively knowing what will satisfy and delight the user of your product. Sometimes, we don’t have the benefit of time / budget for experimenting and testing and we need to go on raw intuition alone. Some folks have it and some folks just don’t. I get super excited when I predict what’s going to fail right away in usability testing and then get validated, or the exact opposite occurs and it goes so right.

In general if there’s a person who thinks of others, and is a giver, they are going to shine in the field of UX. They have faith in themselves and their vision. They also constantly think about how their actions will affect those around them. It is truly rare to find someone with this combination and why it’s so difficult to hire and retain the top cut of UX talent. A portion of this can be taught, but some of it just needs to come naturally. Classes and experience will certainly help to a certain extent, and I do believe that almost everyone can learn about UX and make it part of their job even if it’s not in their title. But just as you wouldn’t design your own website or branding yourself, think about working with a truly talented User Experience professional for your next product. Surround yourself with these amazing folks, as I have had the great fortune to do, and watch the stellar results blossom.