Proposing a platform to address the emotional side of health finances

Client: AARP Design Challenge, "A Bill You Can Understand"
Roles: Project Management, Content & Prototype Development, Production
Deliverables: Design Brief, Video, Patient Journey, Interactive Prototype



In 2016, HHS and AARP sponsored a Design and Innovation Challenge that I participated in called "A Bill You Can Understand"to help improve the medical billing experience. In addition to a survey with 300+ patients and families, design agency Mad*Pow partnered with AARP to conduct interviews with 25+ patients, families, and representatives from health systems, insurance companies, and integrated systems. This resulted in a comprehensive research report as well as data from their findings that uncover core issues and opportunities associated with medical billing and medical cost estimation.


From research data, my colleague and I saw that health finance experiences can contribute to — or cause — negative emotions for patients, leading many to disengage from payment or worse, from medical care itself. We saw how U.S. medical billing and cost estimation processes were designed as transactional interactions between a customer and a vendor, without recognizing the emotional and financial challenges that compound healthcare decision-making. We prototyped a platform concept to help address this and facilitated a small design feedback session with lower-income older adult women to review early concepts and refine. We wanted to learn from this "extreme" user group as part of our human centered design process.


What we proposed was a web and mobile platform to simplify billing, contextualize costs in a user's life, and provide personalized emotional guidance and resources throughout. The participants in our design feedback session found the solution to be "simplified" and "very user friendly". In a very tight timeline we created a short video, written design brief, patient journey, and interactive design prototype (click on following images to view). The submission received Honorable Mention for Transformative Approach.   

“A well-developed submission that … provides financial options for payment and engages the consumer in a very transparent fashion to assist in the resolution of encounters denied by their insurance.” 
— Design Challenge Advisory Panel

View the video:

Read the design brief:

Follow the patient journey:

See the designs: