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Design Strategy Manager

Michael Seidel

Ep 20

Healthcare Innovation During COVID-19

Ep 20

Healthcare Innovation During COVID-19

Healthcare Innovation During COVID-19

Andrew talks with Michael Seidel, Design Strategy Manager at Advocate Aurora Health, about designing system of care and the accelerated innovation of tele-health. They discuss using evidence-backed research to create products, and creating holistic experiences for patients across various platforms.

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Episode Details

Hosted By
Andrew Verboncouer
Guest
Michael Seidel
Show Notes
Transcript

Andrew Verboncouer: 

You're listening to the Seaworthy Podcast, Episode 20, Healthcare Innovation during COVID-19. Seaworthy is a podcast about building successful software. Today, we're talking about designing systems of care, and the accelerated adoption of telehealth with Michael Seidel of Advocate Aurora Health.


I'm excited to have Michael Seidel on the show with me today. Michael is design strategy manager at Advocate Aurora Health, a regional healthcare system based in Illinois and Wisconsin with over 74,000 employees. Welcome to Seaworthy Michael, thanks for coming on the show today. How are you doing?  

Michael Seidel: 

I’m doing pretty good. Thanks for having me, Andrew. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.  Before we jump in and talk more about design healthcare and all things related, can you just tell us a little bit more about your background and your story, how you got into design and technology? 


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah, for sure. I think like a lot of people who've ended up in the UX world before there were programs for it.


I came in a sort of odd way. I went to school to get an English degree, not knowing what I would do with that  And that somehow transitioned into me freaking out at the last minute before graduating last, maybe year and a half. Trying to determine what I would do with that. Focusing then on technical and professional writing background or focus with my English degree. From there, I ended up working for a company as a technical writer.


As I was doing that, I started realizing that a lot of the writing that I was doing was trying to get people to overcome problems that existed with the software that we were creating at that organization. Luckily around the same time that I was maybe about a year into my time there a woman was hired who had a lot of expertise in usability testing.


So she was brought into really improve and get research-backed evidence to make enhancements to our products. So that was a whole new idea to me. She didn't even use the term UX at this time, I think was, this was maybe like 2007 ish. So th the term UX was still pretty, pretty fresh even though a lot of the methodology already existed, but she took me under her wings.


Really helped me to understand how to do research, whether it was field work in-person usability testing and really. Train me very well over the course of maybe a year and a half to do that type of work. And then she left the organization and I was the one left who knew how to do any of the user research.

So I was put in that role of leading it - obviously had to figure a lot of things out still. I was pretty new to it and had to figure out my own ways of doing things. From there. I was brought on from a colleague at that company who, who left to go to another company to start a UX practice.


So I was really brought in to start the research arm of that - was focused on some information architecture activities, but primarily on spinning up  user research and was a large organization, global organization -  maybe 150 years old, primarily engineering led. There was not a good understanding of what, design was, what user experience design was, what research contributed to that. So I spent a couple of years getting motion with that and, traveling the globe and doing research in different countries traveling to all corners of the U S in doing research. From there I decided it was time to challenge myself and do something different.


And that's how I ended up at Advocate Aurora Health. I was brought on there again to start a UX discipline. There were pockets of research and design happening - user experience design happening, but it was primarily a visual design focused discipline that they had. So it was really brought on to bring that kind of research bac ked  approach to the work that was going on at Aurora health care at that time. Soon merged with Advocate Aurora - or with Aurora - to become Advocate Aurora Health. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for that. That's, it's a good background. Interesting that you came more from the English and communications side of things where you know as you were exposed to user experience, your understanding really how much word words matter.

And I think that's, that's a key point in that, if we  and we see this all the time in user research, if you have bias and you explain to the user or you help clarify certain things, that's a different experience than somebody sitting alone with software, figuring out what's the next step.


What are the implications if I do this? Can I leave it blank? What happens if I don't? And I think like messaging plays such an important role in setting the expectations for what the user can do and what they can expect next.


Michael Seidel: 

Yea, absolutely. That's a very important thing, I would say also the, having a background in writing and in communication really helps with how I interact with internal stakeholders or team members.


A lot of what I do now is facilitation and leading groups in how you set things up, how you set the stage for that work, whether it's internal clients, stakeholders, internal team members, all that matters to really help a successful project or product get launched. So I definitely feel like, yeah, from  the perspective of working with users, it's really important, but also internally as well.


So I'm glad that I have that weirdo background with how I got into user experience. I think it just adds a bit of diversity as far as background to that, to the teams that I work on, which are typically people who have a formal design -they went to school for design, for example.


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah, that's powerful. So what do you do outside of work Michael? 


Michael Seidel: 

I do a lot of different things.  I'd say primarily,  with the pandemic and quarantine, I've been doing a lot of - I do Ashtanga yoga most mornings of the week. And then I also do a lot of running. The running is a very helpful escape from being inside. So that's a part of the day that I always look forward to is getting out and just moving my body a little bit. So definitely try to move as much as possible when I'm not at work, sitting at a desk. And then obviously also with that as well, keeping busy with a family and juggling all that.


So all those things go together and that need to balance all those things. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah. Balance. It's a good…



Michael Seidel: 

It's a struggle, right? 


Andrew Verboncouer:  

Especially with the yoga. Yeah. Life, yoga. 


Michael Seidel: 

Yea, for sure.


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah. So tell us a little bit more about your role at Advocate, Aurora health, and what problems you and your team are really in the pursuit of solving.


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah. I would say a lot of the work that I do is facilitation of some stripe or another. I do a lot of like I said, touched on earlier. I do a lot of facilitation of  g roup activities, group design activities, we are very heavily into design sprints. That seems to be something that has gained a lot of traction over the last couple of years that I've, I introduced that to our discipline and started doing that, bringing together cross-functional teams to solve design problems.


And that's something that I really like. And then also, a lot of research that feeds the work that we do. So whether it's a really deep level of research on big complex problems or small iterative,  quick feedback type sessions. We're always trying to just learn more have evidence for everything that we do and really create products based on that data that we're gathering.


So really some of the problems that we're trying to solve is how do we become more and more of a consumer led consumer first organization? Obviously being within healthcare patients are our number one concern. But what we're doing from a digital standpoint is trying to translate what that means that term patient means to really what a consumer or our user needs from the products that we're offering to them.

Our primary focus is around. We don't really... it is around... let me start over with that. Our primary focus is really around the consumer facing products. So that kind of spans from websites to kiosks to apps.  We definitely, over the last three years that I've been with the organization, have really expanded out on what our focus is, where we initially were primarily just focused on maintaining and updating websites.

We really look up across a lot of a lot of different platforms now. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah, that's exciting. It really starts to encompass more of the, how do you design healthcare as a service, almost to people like taking that service design model and figuring out how do we serve them, where they are, and, understanding the touch points across that experience to be able to say, Hey, a kiosk is right for this. An app is right for this. The website can handle kind of these jobs. 


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah. And along with that, just the interconnectivity between them. So that omni-channel approach to things. We know that someone maybe, would schedule an appointment on their computer and then move to their phone, to check in for their appointment.

Then they get to a clinic maybe they need to interact with the kiosk. Then after a visit, there might be some lab work that they have to check on another device. So we're really focused on how do we create a cohesive experience between all of those different devices and to your point service design.

So what are the offline touch points? Who are the people that they're interacting with at a clinic or a hospital level? What are the, we never want to make a change that makes it really efficient for a user to do something that complicates the internal workflow around it. So we're definitely cognizant of that.

And we have a lot of discussions and are more and more leading discussions around how do we create that good holistic experience that benefits everyone? 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah, that's powerful. So as you as you take a step back, what types of activities or things does your team do to really get a grasp around, that, holistic journey and that kind of service design aspect? 


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah. Let me think about that. I would say that a lot of the work that we do is especially the work that I do is really in that vein. Like I said, service , service design is definitely a thread of what we do. And it's something that we're doing more and more. But I would say as far as true problem solving -  to me, there's no substitute for where we currently are positioned as an organization to design sprints. They just are really helpful with bringing together the cross-functional teams and bringing together people with different perspectives to solve the problems together.


So I would say for the most part, that's the thing that's really helping us look strategically at the work that we have coming in front of us.  From there, we have teams that are more on the execution level of the work. 

But really where I'm focused is - what are we trying to do? What are the ways that we can approach that? And then how do we continue to use these same methodologies to enhance the product as time goes by. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah. Are you doing -  you mentioned before balancing big picture ideas, new ways to serve customers and then also iterating on existing experiences - 


Are you thinking about the experience in an incremental way, where you're doing design sprints and, Hey, this feature or this benefit, or are you part of the team that's stepping back and saying like, how would we make this 10 times better? And then having some big bets that you're also testing.


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah, I would say it's a mix of both the way that we use design sprints. So I think a good example is with our LivWell our app that we launched last, let's say November, I think it's been about a year. We initially had some inkling of what the business needed from an app.


It's really taking whatever is currently on offer in electronic health records, providing that to a patient, but then also enhancing it with additional features, making it and making it as usable as possible, obviously.  But adding things like meditation, we have healthy news, which is a new service where the organization publishes articles and things along those lines on a daily basis.

So we really wanted to figure out, okay, what are we tasked with. We need to have all of this stuff come together in a way that makes sense, or that's usable that people can get to all this different information. So starting with big asks along those lines and then using a design sprint to figure out, okay what does that mean?

How do we bring all that together? What are the first priorities? What's the MVP version of that. And then, every couple months since that time we've done additional design sprints around -  okay we need to do this around this specific feature or we're looking to do new features that maybe incorporate bringing a certain piece of information, into the product and then using that as the way of exploring those ideas. So whether they're big or small, we still use that same basic template, I would say of a design sprint to investigate it much in the same way that we use research on a big and small scale.


We just kinda size it to fit whatever the ask is. Bring the right people into the room and really investigate it. And then obviously, always look back to how is that fitting into the what's already been done up to that point and how it might lead into stuff we know is on the radar for, down the line six months or a year, and the big picture of where we're going with it.


So there's a level of clarity that exists, but then some gray area within the clarity. And that's usually what we use the design sprint to really, get into more. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah. Yeah.  That's good. Like figuring out what... laying out what you know and what you don't know. And then how do you go find that out? And you know, target that effort. 


Michael Seidel: 

And a lot of times, yeah - a lot of times, you have a very vague notion within our design sprints of what the problem is, even that we're trying to solve and through the discussion and through the stakeholder interviews and all of that, we get a lot more clarity and it's okay we didn't...we knew we were in this general realm, but now we're specifically focused on this part of that realm. So let's keep moving forward and coming up with ideas around that specific smaller part of it. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah. Yeah, that's helpful. So I guess, take us back to March, when true lockdown started to happen, especially here in Wisconsin, there was a mandate that came out relatively early, I think in the third week, second or third week.  

Being in healthcare, obviously there's ramifications, there's expectations. There's different things that people need, now in an urgent way, can you talk about how your team's work and trajectory has changed since March? 


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah ... healthcare from everything that I've seen has radically shifted since then. I don't think that's - probably to anyone listening to this podcast - that's probably not a surprise at all that technology is really the backbone of everything that's happening with the way that people engage with healthca re  now. But I feel like March was definitely a time that did a good job of ripping off the band-aid. 


So an example of - within our company, we were in the process of starting to pilot virtual visits. And we had - there were a couple of clinics that we were testing it with or in the process of starting to test it with. I want to say that we were like very much in the early stages of figuring out how to do it. And we had a goal of doing 25,000 virtual visits for the rest of the year.


So from March till December, end of December. And I remember having discussions around that and it was just like, how are we ever going to do that? How do we get enough adoption of this? How do we get doctors to modify their practices to start using a computer instead of sitting next to somebody? So there was a lot of discussions around  what is this thing? What do we do with it? 


Because of the fact that we switched to primarily virtual visits after March the numbers that I've seen most recently were that as of October, we had more than a 700,000 virtual visits across our system.


So you can see - I'm terrible at math, so I'm not even gonna attempt that number - but that is a significant increase from where we thought we were going to be to where we actually are. So there's just an ongoing focus on not only how do you do virtual visits, but a big part of what I spent, March, April, May doing is figuring -  is having to look from a research perspective, looking into how do we improve communicating to people about how they do a virtual visit.


So it's not as simple as clicking a button and then they go. You know we're serving patients across all experience level, all ages level, all abilities level. We're really - everyone is basically the users of our products. So how do we, in a clear, concise way communicate, these are the things that you need to do-  if you can't do those things, do these things instead. So a lot of support websites or web pages that really - the attempt of them ,or what we were attempting with them was to handhold people of how they actually get to their virtual visits. 


And then through that, there was a lot of iteration on we tried that thing. We needed to get something up by the end of the week, but it probably wasn't the best thing. So let's step back, get additional feedback, figure out how we fix it. We've released help center around virtual visits. There have just been a lot of ideas that have come out of this that we never would have thought of, if we were working in the slow motion world of 25,000 virtual visits for the year versus, 800, 900,000.


So it, I feel like it was a good thing because it forced everybody into this new realm. And I think patients from my understanding of it and my view into it is it's something that people like and providers as well. It's just a new way of doing things that they're adapting to and it's going well.


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah. Yeah. Did anything surprise you in that process? Obviously this was something your team was ramping up. You had some goals, initiatives around adoption and, figuring out how to move the needle for those patients, through those virtual visits. Anything that surprised you in going from, Hey we want 25,000 to now, we want, almost a million virtual visits. 


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah, I would say that the thing that was most surprising is just that how adaptable people are when they need to be. I think with everything related to the pandemic, it was just a mind shift for everybody. So there was no time to resist that this is the way that we do things now. I think more people feel comfortable doing things from their home than going into a place - yeah - going into a place if they don't have to. So I think just giving people the options that -  and how willing people were to have those options of doing something different was really the powerful thing, because you never know, especially when you're in the more slow motion pre-March world, you never know how people are going to respond to it.


 I do feel like from a lot of the research that I've done that within healthcare, there seems to be this idea of - I've always done it this way. So I'm totally okay with doing it this way. And from what I mean ... sorry, let me step back. 


What I mean by that is that, for example, scheduling a doctor online is really cool and it's really convenient, but at the same time, I've gone to the same doctor for my whole life. And I can just easily pick up the phone and talk to my doctor. So there is a level of paradigm shift that is happening and needs that to happen. Where I think maybe healthcare and healthcare systems have been a little bit behind the times  as far as other industries are concerned, with really accelerating, how do they engage with consumers on apps, digitally, overall.  


Because people want to within healthcare have that relationship with another person, they're in a vulnerable position by going into a doctor because you're a person who's talking about your health concerns and all of those types of very human things that the level of human connection has been an expectation for so long.

So how do you really make people understand and feel okay with getting that same level of care, but just done virtually. So there's been a big mind shift with a lot of that. Does that answer the question? 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah. Yeah. That's yeah, that's interesting because I think, so many times - your previous experience sets your expectation.

And what we're seeing now is that acceleration - not just in healthcare, but in all things, right, because people are remote - of changing expectations. So I ,think it's more important now than ever, if it was ever not important , for you to keep a pulse on your customers, daily, weekly really figure out like how - not only healthcare is changing, but how the markets around them are changing. Because that all raises the bar for that expectation of how you deliver a good or a service to them. 


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah. And I would say that overall with the research that we've done pre-March versus post-March, any concept that we put in front of someone that has some virtual component to it, it's not any more - "oh yeah, I 'd only... I would only want to call my doctor." It's more -  "oh, yeah, I just had a doctor's appointment last week that I did virtually, or my husband did," or there's a point of reference with it. So that just makes it so that people are becoming more comfortable with it. I think it's fascinating, just the feedback that I get pre-March versus since March.


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Feeling stuck with your startup or app idea and not sure what to do next?  I'm Andrew Verboncouer, Partner and CEO at Headway. You can book a free consult with me to help you and your team move forward. On this call, we'll listen to your problems, identify some new opportunities and next steps for you, and show you how our approach can help you reach your goals. So go to headway.io to schedule your free consult now. Look forward to helping you go from where you are, closer to where you want to be.


Yeah. So I imagine there's been a lot of changes in the past nine months, from March till now. But you started in healthcare, over three years ago. How have things changed in that longer period? In your mind and just a design strategy as a whole in healthcare. 


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah. I would say that the bar has definitely been getting steadily higher as far as how do we provide a good overall consumer experience to patients?

Obviously I'm most days buried deep in the work that we're doing within Advocate Aurora Health, where that is always a major point of discussion of - how do we make a consumer first model a realit y ? And I see that also with other organizations who are doing similar work to what we're doing -   even just looking at other competitors or other healthcare systems that maybe aren't necessarily competitors, but somewhere else, regionally within the country, just how much the design bar has been increasing over the last couple of years. 


I think that there are more and more people who are just trying to figure it out and investing in design because they know from other industries or from the device that's in their hand at all times that maybe where healthcare was, is not where it should be based on what they're seeing within other industries. So I feel like it's a really encouraging place to be.


I know that the other side of healthcare is something that I don't necessarily touch on, but medical devices and, other products that are not necessarily just healthcare systems. And I think that what is interesting to look forward to is - how do all of these things converge in the longterm? 


So maybe medical devices are interacting and talking to systems that we're creating that get surfaced to users. And I definitely see that through some of the partnerships that we have that bringing that data and bringing it to life in a way that's meaningful and consumable  is really something that's going to be happening more and more as time goes by.


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah, and  it's this continuous health versus a snapshot in time from a visit or a blood draw or, there's work we've done in the continuous blood glucose monitoring realm and in, dialysis clinics and stuff where, you need more than just point in time data to be, to diagnose and to actually treat it the right way.

And so I think, yeah, that's absolutely right. And that there's converging and the quantified self as a lot of people call i .t. You know, it's going to be huge in how hospitals and doctors and clinics can serve you better and be really, consumer focused. I think there's a little bit of a hurdle, that some folks might need to get over from a big brother standpoint of this thing that's monitoring me,  is now piping into, to other data streams. But I think the benefits far outweigh the...what would someone do with that data ?


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah. And I think to the big brother idea, I really believe that it's getting people to understand that it's not nefarious reasons why this information is being captured, but if someone has a health condition, this is really helping to get a better understanding of where you are with that condition and how you're improving in the monitoring for the sake of your health, not for the sake of anything else related to what the data is or does.


Yeah. And so I think that synthesizing of the data and making that consumable is definitely a big thing - a big opportunity because obviously even a doctor can't sit and look through something that's constantly monitoring heart rate. They can't look through that for weeks at a time, but getting snapshots of what's happened at different points in the day I think is a really interesting area of where some of this stuff might come together. But then also how does a patient view that and say, okay I'm doing definitely better this month versus last. And then what does that mean in the broader spectrum of their health - a picture of their health. A lot of this is there's just, obviously so many different devices that are out there. There are so many health conditions. There are so many -  it's infinite the amount of data that could be brought together. So I'm really excited to see what the work that we do. How do we start bringing this stuff together? And what information do we bring together to create a picture for people to make them healthier? 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah. What do you see as the biggest hurdles to rapid iteration and learning in healthcare?  The feedback loops about the customer, the time to implement - what do you see as the biggest hurdles, you working in healthcare for a handful of years?


Michael Seidel: 

I would say that from a consumer standpoint is - change is not necessarily always a good thing. So people are not really, for the most part, they're not going into an app or into a health record all the time, unless there's a chronic condition that they have, where they need to go in there to schedule appointments and check on test results. So that happens. 


But I would say the majority of our users are going in somewhat irregularly - they figure out how to do something. If they come back the next time, which three months later  - totally making up a number - but if they come back three months later and everything has changed on them, it's just going to lead to frustration.

It's just going to lead them... there is a level of, this is the tool that they need to use to engage with their health digitally so they are beholden to whatever changes happen. But we don't ever want to do anything that just completely derails them. So that is a hard thing when we always are looking to improve and innovate and do things better, leverage what other industries are doing. But we don't want to move in a way that's too fast that people just completely get lost, and they can't manage their health properly. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah, I think that -  I mean that, that's a good insight. And a lot of companies, in addition to systems innovating, startups coming on the scene that are innovating and big reason why they fail is timing.


Like the expectations of their users aren't there. And so it doesn't make sense. They have a value prop that's not - doesn't resonate with them because they can't bridge that gap, to your point earlier around how the response to tele-health has been, having those reference points or anecdotes or things like where people have used and leveraged technology in those ways, is helpful and reassuring for people. And if you're the first one in your group of people, that's heard of that, like you're probably - Eh, I don't know. There's an adoption curve that happens. 


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah. And I'd say that, that is the good thing about working for a healthcare system is that you see different emerging trends within the industry or outside of the industry and you have the opportunity to, not just rush to get them out necessarily, but reflect on how useful they are and how they can be integrated into the products that you offer. So I definitely feel like we have a luxury of knowing that we're going to continue to iterate this stuff over the long-term and not just, rushing to get out, a product to meet some market demand that exists at a certain moment or that we think might exist at a certain moment. But we're really here to serve our patients and introduce things in a meaningful , strategic way that really solves the big problems first and then moves on to the things that might just enhance the experience later on.


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah. Yeah. Where do you think things are going in the next five years, given the leapfrog, the adoption, everything driven by the pandemic and current state of the world. What do you think? Strategy, design, experience in healthcare?  


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah. I just think overall, and obviously it's not at all unique to healthcare, but just it's going to... mobile is going to be the predominant way that people interact with everything related to their health. And we need to figure out how to make that reality happen. And I know that we have a lot of projects that we work on that are very much in that vein. But definitely connecting the dots and reducing the amount of steps that maybe exist -  that are in the way of meeting that goal. So we talk a lot about how do we make the phone, the primary hub of everything that you're doing to engage with your health? 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah. Yeah. There's actually an app that I've used for five years now. It's called gyroscope and it connects into all your - it's like the ... what do they call it? Human O S or something like it ties into your Apple watch. If you've got an Oura ring, if you take blood samples, if you're doing keto, like all of these things integrated and do like a timeline. It's very interesting to think about, the next level of that. Even the quantified self, where you have these things that are kind of monitoring, your health. 


I think a lot of cases, like things that, like your Apple watch, I think they've done strides forward in making adoption of devices, medical devices and things more acceptable, more relatable, to your point earlier where -  it'll automatically call nine one one, if it detects something, and deploy them to you. I think that's a huge... there's people who have, who have died in those situations. And unfortunately my mother passed away from a heart attack six years ago and she had an Apple watch o n , you know - hey, maybe someone could have, could have gotten deployed. There's countless other stories of people where things happen where, you don't have the data and you have these point in time snapshots and... 


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah, there's definitely a good opportunity to make technology that's proactive.  And tying that again to the bigger picture of your health. I think that's a good thing about being in a healthcare system is we're not just looking -  those ideas are interesting, and it can detect your heart rate and, see if there's any anomaly with that, but really just the ability to see that whole bigger picture of what that means with everything that's been going on with you over a period of time. I think we have a lot that we can do with that. So I'm excited to, I don't have answers to anything yet, but I'm excited, for the journey and to figure out how we can pull these ideas in, that really make it so that people can proactively be healthier.


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah. So let's dig in a little bit, Michael to team dynamics. What do you think is the biggest problem right now you're facing at Aurora  Advocate Aurora Health, today, with product designer development and kind of that whole cycle.


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah. I would say that the biggest thing that we've been going through for the last year or so is having brought together two large organizations -  Advocate in Illinois and Aurora  in Wisconsin. When we got  brought together we did s ome grounding in trying to figure out how many web properties we had. How basically, what were we working with? And an astronomical number of web properties and just different identities that we had in different places.

And then looking at those sites, even, it was just like, Oh, none of these are even remotely the same. They have different technology, backing them up. They have different look and feel - just all over the board. So we've spent so much time over the last year, two years, three years - I don't know how to list out a number -  it seems like it's been going on for a long time and we're getting, more and more in the direction that we need to be, but creating consistency from an experience standpoint. So if you're trying to find a doctor. This is how that works for you to find a doctor. This is from -  what other research that we've done, this is the best way that, that you can do it. Let's deploy that to all of the sites that have a find a doctor experience. Obviously that's a big thing that people are looking to do when they're interacting with us is - I know that you're a healthcare system. Tell me who I can see for this condition that I have, or yeah.


And then along with that is creating a design system from a look and feel standpoint. So that's a big part of what our visual design team has been focused on. What are the - how is this button designed, how are these dropdowns designed? How do we do this component? And so that's been a very useful thing for us because it helps us get scale.

So we have been moving over our technologies to  a single CMS as we're doing that, we're applying our, you know, making design tweaks and applying our design system to it. So that's been a big part of where I think as a design organization we've been focused. So I've really been looking at the, how do we make this stuff consistent from an experience standpoint, or what do we need to do to enhance this going forward? Whereas a lot of the teams really focused on kind of those nuts and bolts of -  this is what the best visual approaches consistently across our organization, and this is how we bring all that stuff together.


So it's been a really exciting time. Where I've worked before. - this is probably going back to maybe 2013, 2014 - when design systems, you were just hearing the first rumblings of them. We tried doing a design system at that time. I think we were just maybe too large and not nimble enough. But also didn't really know exactly what we were doing or how a design system would be useful or how to apply to all the different products that we had.


But through that process, It gave me a lot of excitement around what design systems are and what they can bring to a company. So I was really excited when we had the opportunity because of the merger to really start building a robust design system. And I think it's just been something that's been great for everybody, even as me as a -  I would say that I'm a user experience designer in kind of the lamest terms -  I do, wireframes usually, they're pretty crappy. They're not that great. They get the idea across, but that's not where I shine or, definitely visual design isn't my forte. But having a design system allows us to build out prototypes in Adobe XD very quickly that we can then get user testing done on. So all of it just helps across the board with everything that we're doing from ideation to execution. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah. And you're not reinventing the wheel every time you want to test a new idea. 


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah. Yeah. So it's been really great for us and I think the designers that I work with I'll speak for them, but I think that they've enjoyed the process of figuring out what are the best things, what are the ways that we do these different components and how do we build this thing out? So it's been a fun, technical challenge. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah. How do you  ensure business goals, user outcomes and design are all communicated and intermingled together, as you think about taking that design system and applying it to a specific flow and XD or a prototype, how do you take those business goals and carry them through the product teams? 


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah, I would say that, again, I know I'm putting a lot of weight on design sprints, but a lot of the way that we really get agreement and alignment on what we're doing is through the design sprints. Also, along with that is we have very close relationships with our stakeholders. So I feel like understanding what the vision is, but then also having the clouse in communication channels with the people who have the final say on it, really on a daily basis, helps us figure out, okay, what is really what's needed. And then how do we meet that from a design perspective, obviously using research as our backbone to figure out, okay, this is what we're trying to do. This is what we think we should do. This is what we actually need to do, because this is the thing that'll make it usable and make it better for our patients. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah, that's good. Are there any - you mentioned using Adobe XD for prototyping. Are there any tools you're using internally that you feel like you couldn't live without? 


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah, I would say XD has been the tool that we've just standardized around from a design perspective.


 We also do use usertesting.com pretty often. One of the good things about working in healthcare is that we have a pretty general audience base. I know from past roles that I've had to do recruiting was 99% of your research effort because you had to find specific people who had very specific backgrounds or titles or roles. And so that was always a very difficult thing. 


With the work that we do, we can use user testing to pretty much find anybody that we're looking for to get feedback very quickly. So that's really just helped to expedite the way that we do research and how fast, we can get research done.

And then also really, because we are all working from home for the foreseeable future, we've - with our design sprints really transitioned to doing it all remotely, I was definitely nervous. The first time I had to do that  - but with a lot of good resources online, helped me figure out how to do that.


And I think we're going to continue to refine our process for it going forward. But we use mural as the tool, the white boarding tool for that. And that's worked really well for us. Just to -  actually what I like about using a digital whiteboard -  and this isn't even specifically mural, but I think just a digital whiteboard in general is - when we were doing design session s , design sprints in person, we'd have a kind of a war room where all these post-it notes would go up and you'd come back the next day. And half of them would be on the floor. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

You have to figure out where they go.


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah. You don't know where they go. You'd run out of whiteboard space, so you're erasing things and taking pictures of it. And then you just have this mess of pictures on your phone. What, I feel like a digital whiteboard really gives us a lot of ability to do is to capture artifacts. So when I'm putting together a deck afterwards, I can just take a screenshot of a part of a whiteboard and put that into the deck and be able to explain to people who weren't participants. This is what we did. This is what it looked like, and this is how it worked. And this was the information that we got from it. So I feel like, for most of the work that I do, those are the tools that are my lifeblood on a daily basis.


Like I said, I'm. I'm a UX designer, probably in the lamest sense of the word. So I'm not getting into any  more intensive design tools. The rest of our team is but really for the kind of more strategy work that I'm doing, those are the primary things that really helped me get my work done and communicate to the people that I'm working with, where we need to go and, the direction of the work. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah. Yeah. That's helpful. And just to clarify, did you say Mural or Miro? 


Michael Seidel: 

Mural. Yeah. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

M-U-R-A-L? 


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah. I know that's always an interesting conversation because of those two products that do very similar things with very close name.  Yeah. It's always a hard one to say. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah, we'll include that, definitely in the show notes for those that are interested This has been super helpful. I really appreciate your insight, Michael. Where can people follow you and connect if they want to learn more or talk about what you're doing at Advocate? 


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah, I would say that probably LinkedIn is the best place to find me these days. I have done -  I used to run a UX meetup group for a number of years called Milwaukee UX based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And so we used to do a lot from a social aspect around that. Ever since we sunsetted that a couple of years ago, I've backed off on my social media presence with things UX related.


So I'd say if you want to talk about any of this, I'm always excited to, to have conversations. That's definitely what I miss about the new era that we're in is not being able to go out to conferences, and really interact with - or local meetups  - and interact with people who are doing the same thing. I definitely miss that.  Definitely if there's anything, healthcare or UX related that you want to talk about, feel free to find me on LinkedIn. I think we, maybe we can provide that in the show notes as well, if that works for you Andrew - not to give you a task to complete, but that's probably the best way of reaching out to me. And I would love to have a conversation with you about any of these topics. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Sounds great. Thanks again, Michael. It was great learning about how you've adapted to COVID, how, your plans for your team continually iterate. And I think the big thing is just the feedback loops are always there, right? High level, low level, really, getting that voice of the customer attached to the work that you're doing. Thanks again for -  


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah, absolutely. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Yeah, for sure. 


Michael Seidel: 

Yeah. And I think that we're in a good place to continue to adapt all those methodologies and those feedback loops to the world as it continues to change. I know we're not out of the woods with any of this yet, so I'm sure there'll be some changes that come, that happen down the line. So I'm excited to see where this lands us. Yeah, absolutely. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Awesome. Thanks again. 


Michael Seidel: 

Yep. Thanks so much. Have a good day. 


Andrew Verboncouer: 

Thanks for listening to Seaworthy. Connect with us and ask questions on Twitter @seaworthyfm. Make sure you subscribe - and if you enjoyed it, leave a review on iTunes. Sail forth, and make waves.


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