Care Coordination Research

2016 - Design Research - Memorial Sloan Kettering

October ~ November 2016 (2 month)
Research Synthesis: Opportunities

Cancer care is an art of orchestration. It requires collaborative efforts by physicians, nurses, office assistants, researchers as well as patients and their caregivers. Ironically, Design Innovation Group has been building empathy around patients and caregivers throughout years of work at Memorial Sloan Kettering, but was relatively lacking knowledge around inside of the door of our clinics. As service design lay its lens at not only to customer experience (patients in this case) but also the front stage and back stage, we needed a deep knowledge around people who are providing care and their coordination efforts. How do highly specialized individuals work together towards shared goals, and operationalize their intentions in clinic settings?

> Senior Designer (Project lead)
    Design researcher
    UX designer
    Visual Designer

Planning Research Objectives

  • Learn the workflow, attitudes & behaviors of clinicians and operations staff around communication, coordination and documentation.
  • Understand the needs and objectives of clinical teams in communicating amongst themselves and with patients.
  • Understand the landscape of tools (digital and non-digital) that clinician teams currently use to communicate with patients and with each other.
  • Map information flows and see where information lives, including tacit knowledge that is unrecorded.
  • Identify opportunities and ideas that could address needs and objectives, especially in line with strategic goals such as exploring virtual care

Field Research

We used research methodologies that can help us deep dive into the action of care coordination: observation (shadowing & contextual inquiries), interview with subject matter experts as well as people in the field.

For clinic observations, a team of designers visited 3 clinics. We interviewed clinic staff members including both clinical and non-clinical staff before or after the clinic day. When the clinic was running, we spread ourselves into multiple locations of a clinic (waiting area, staff desks, exam room) to be able to cross check what has been happening in multiple locations at a time of an event.

^  Our collective notes, artifacts, and photos were gathered in the project room for sense-making. What is a common theme and what opportunities can we find?


Making Sense of What We Learned

^ Synthesizing our learnings: We have documented roles, tools and workflows around care coordination based on what we were told, observed and collected to have shared understanding within the department of design innovation


Moving forward

^ Opportunity areas: The research ended with suggesting opportunity spaces based on clinic staff members’ behaviors, intentions and desires as well as from a systems perspective. Where can we make an greater impact to support clinical operations?

  • Planning & Recruiting – Field research (observations in clinics and physician offices, and interviews)  – Synthesis


  • led the project from planning to delivering final report


  • Translating our learnings of the subject’s complex nature into feasible opportunities


  • Influenced development and deployment of care coordination tools at MSKCC
  • Internally in the design group, opened to a new possibility of service design approach when service is provided by human beings with high degree of expertise, goals and emotions