BIF9 Meets BIF Experience Labs: A Reflection from Experience Designer, Lindsey Messervy

As an Experience Designer within our BIF experience labs, I’ve spent my time here – over 1 year now – hitting the ground running. My first day at BIF was literally on a plane to kick off the work we’ve been doing with Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. Since then, it’s been an amazing whirlwind of a project that will be culminating in a relaunched website of the work we’ve done thus far (coming soon!) as well as setting the team up to experiment with a wholly new model that centers health engagement outside the walls of our institutions and into the contexts and communities of the everyday lives of families.

Now, the magnitude of this work has not been lost on me. We are tackling a hugely complex system along with equally complex human factors that influence the relationship we have with our health. And we are tackling it in a way that has rarely (if ever) been done before – by creating and testing a new business model for healthcare that is created from and built around the experience of families themselves. Because of this, sometimes it feels like we are swimming upstream, against the typical incremental approaches to healthcare innovation. As many of you know and experience yourselves, this can lead to moments of hesitation and questioning.

For me, and for many others on our BIF team, the BIF9 summit was the perfect point to stop and reflect on the projects we are currently undertaking, the roles we are currently playing, and the higher calling of disruptive innovation and purposeful transformation that we have chosen to answer. The summit provided a sense of reassurance that others are taking the hard road with us, and provided inspiration for reframing problems that we’ve been struggling with. Below are some learnings that I’ve taken from the BIF9 stories released this week, and how they are reflected in our work within the Patient Experience Lab. These are just a few of my Random Collisions of Unusual Ideas.

Roseanne Haggerty: The importance asking the right question

Roseanne’s talk had many takeaways related to our work in Dallas, but what spoke to me most was her story of Sarah – a woman dubbed as “service-resistant” after many fruitless encounters to help her until she reached out directly to Roseanne. The breakthrough came when Roseanne had asked Sarah why she never accepted help before. “You didn’t ask me if I wanted a home,” replied Sarah.

This concept of asking the right questions is central for understanding the complex factors and conditions that influence health. Currently, the healthcare system is not being incentivized for asking the right questions to its patients – in fact, it’s not even built for that. But these are the questions that allow a deeper understanding of a patient’s circumstances – that will uncover the poor living conditions that are contributing to a child’s asthma attacks. Or the mentality of resignation that is preventing a teenager from taking steps to control her weight. Or the familial pressure of keeping cultural food traditions that are impacting the blood glucose levels of a diabetic boy. The ability to ask the questions that will unearth this learning is not what the healthcare system is set up to do.

So, rather than pushing that responsibility onto doctors, our new model enlists trusted members of the patient’s community – people that they know and trust – in the role of uncovering and addressing the economic, social, or cultural barriers that are preventing a patient from adopting healthier outcomes. This new experience will enable us to ask the deeper questions that will get a more authentic response, and allow practitioners to recognize and act on a fuller understanding of their patient.

Steve Blank: Failure is an integral part of the experience of learning

As I stated above, our team is ready to move into business model experimentation – testing this new model in the real world. But it wasn’t until Steve Blank’s BIF9 talk that I made the connection between what we will be doing and what start ups do everyday. I realized we are trying to find the right business model for this “health and wellness start up” that we have conceived. From that “aha” moment came a strategy for this next phase of work, inspired by the Lean Startup process by Eric Ries (one of Steve Blank’s collaborators).

Not only that, but his talk also brought home the fact that we must be comfortable with using failure as an integral part of the learning experience. In spite of all the time and energy we put into the creation of this new model, it is not perfect. It will fail in its current representation, because there is no possible way we can predict how the market will react. But, by building in a process to learn from these failures – through a cycle of Iterating, Measuring, and Learning – this will evolve our vision to move it closer and closer to success.

For me, the value of the BIF summit was the chance to pause, and gain clarity in thinking with a renewed vigor in our charge. I leave you fellow changemakers with the wise words we have adopted as our team’s rallying call, uttered by a man speaking about an equally difficult endeavor – space exploration – and a man whose legacy is forever tied to our project’s home in Dallas.

“[We choose to do these things] not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win...”

- John F. Kennedy

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