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Transformative Health: Overcoming Entry Barriers

Northwell is the largest integrated healthcare system in New York State committed towards caring for millions of individuals and their families. 

Parsons SDM partnered with Northwell to look into how they could personalize and digitally transform patient and caregiver experiences.


Soumil Panwar, Maria Alejandra Altet, Meshwa Kshatriya, Charlotte Yu

Leah Cabrera Fischer
Ankita Roy


4 Months

Design Process

We followed the double diamond model to propose a strategic recomendation to the client partner. 





Dove into secondary research to build context around healthcare and break down goals into actionable research strategy

Interviewed various stakeholders to find insights, pain points and motivations of the users to formulate opportunity statements

Conducted ideation workshops with stakeholders to break biases and set grounds for innovation in patient journeys

Developed low to high fidility prototypes and tested with patients and caregivers leveraging


Healthcare is

Complex and Ambiguous


of U.S. adults went without recommended care, did not see a doctor when sick, or failed to fill a prescription because of costs

average wait time for a new patient-physician appointment

24 days

How might Northwell decrease entry barriers and increase accessibility in the healthcare system?



How might Northwell offer care for non medical factors that prevent patients from staying on top of their health?

Healthcare is

Missing Context


of the factors that influence our health operate outside hospital walls

average cost of no-shows per patient for health systems 


Lost in Translation

3.1 m

immigrants are living in New York, of which 50% have a limited English proficiency

of New Yorkers identified as having difficulties associated with limited English proficiency


Healthcare is


How might Northwell improve the healthcare quality and access amongst patients with Limited English Proficiency?

User Journey: Care Experience  

Healthcare starts at home where a patients personal motivation helps him to book his first medical appointment and extends to when they are back home . Hence, we broke down health journeys into 3 stages to map and locate the impact of the 4 opportunity areas we identified. 




A patient's healthcare journey starts with the initial step of awareness and action towards starting a healthcare journey

Initial experiences with the system begin when a patient is actually receiving the healthcare service they need

The path to recovery after a patient has been diagnosed and has left  the hospital when friends and family take responsibility


Personas and Research Synthesis

Primary research with 34 patients, 12 caregivers and 4 doctors helped us to identify pain points and motivations to leverage while designing for.

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So I had a strong migraine and went to the hospital, I  made an appointment with a  primary doctor, who later directed me to a neurologist and by the time I got my results back my headache was already gone and so were my dollars. Next time I am simply going to CVS.




Ambiguity Breeds Avoidance

People have a preconceived notion that the healthcare system is complex and inaccessible, which creates fear in their minds leading to avoidance.

Key Research Findings

  • People perceive that the healthcare system in the US is complex

  • Lack of precise and clear information

  • Lack of trust in the system

  • Ambiguous estimates and costs

  • Hard to figure out what doctors you need

  • Self-medication is a widely accepted practice

Design Principles

We identified and materialized 'North Stars' for Northwell to follow in the future and gradually scale up in their overall product eco-system. These principles are non-negotiable values out of research and need to resonate with all design solutions going forward.


Empathetic Communication

Cultivate Belonging

Cohesive Experience

Care for patients by providing not only functional but also emotional support, in a warm and familiar way that makes them feel at home

Request and deliver information in an empathetic, mindful and dignified manner, making patients feel heard while creating a judgment-free safe space that enables comfort and honesty

Provide inclusive and accessible experiences that cultivate a sense of belonging while keeping in mind patients cultural, social, economic and emotional aspects

Reduce friction by avoiding unnecessary, repetitive actions and proactively share information internally so that every touchpoint with Northwell feels like a seamless continuation of the last one


Personas and Research Synthesis

Along with the stakeholders from Northwell, we conducted ideation workshops by sharing user stories, pain points and opportunity statements discovered during our research. Together we brainstormed possible ideas to impact the opportunities with various lenses, that of a product manager, product designer, ux researcher and healthcare professional.  We were able to break barriers of feasibility and business interest with these workshops as ideating together, various stakeholders within Northwell were aligned with our solution from the very beginning. 

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Concept Testing with Patients and Experts

Along We brainstormed and generated concepts to cater to various stages of the care journey of a patient. These concepts were refined and we took story boards in to the field for user testing at an early stage. 

These storyboards helped us: 

  1. 1. Identified constraints in implimentation and use of the various services
    2.Bring priority in our ideation by capturing motivations and blockers

  2. 3.Get buy-in from stakeholders early in the process based on evidence from research



Digital Application Recommendations for Northwell

We identified 3 major touchpoints in the existing Northwell application experience and chose to intervene with strategic recommendations of 3 modules. These modules were designed keeping in mind the complexity of implementation such they can be developed, tested and deployed within 1 years timeframe.

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Enabling Access with

Specialist Connector

Similar to when a kid comes to his mom and asks for help to identify his pain, this tool takes patients through a series of steps, helping them find the right specialist according to their needs and pains.

  1. When a person feels pain, they can simply express their discomfort using simple questions 

  2. They can directly point out the area(s) of discomfort and select the intensity of pain

  3. The backend would capture the location, intensity, frequency and duration of pain to recommend a specialist the person should see for the problem

  4. They can then directly go and schedule and appointment with a doctor 

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Assisting and Guiding with

Health Advisors

Most patients do research before visiting a doctor. However, some patients require additional support. The health advisor coaches patients according to their needs across the entire journey.


“Like an advisor for college students” 

  1. Initiated after appointment booking, people have access to a health advisor, a personified chatbot 

  2. The health advisor would provide information about eligible services and reduce complexity by giving information beforehand

  3. For specific details that are beyond the capabilities of AI, the health advisor(AI) adds a cultural advocate(human) in the chat

  4. These advocates are looped into the conversation based on requirements at each instant

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Making Care Inclusive with

Accessibility Screener

Asking patients respectfully about external factors can help them reflect and help Northwell identify those suffering from social difficulties that can be getting in the way of accessing healthcare or recovering properly.

  1. Patients might be asked to fill out the accessibility screener after sign-up

  2. The results of this screener impact the services they require

  3. Over time, this data can help Northwell predict patterns of services required specific to demographics or location and inform the development of service infrastructure

  4. After answering the questions, statistics of the community with same conditions is displayed in order to reduce anxiety and the feeling of being alone

Business Outcomes and Impact

Increased accessibility for LEP patients

1.93m LEP NYC residents (23% of total NYC population) will prioritize Northwell services for cultural difference support

Increased touchpoints for data collection

Northwell will have access to 17 more data points per user which can be used for future service development as user needs evolve

Cost saving by reducing no-shows

Potential annual savings of $30m  by offering support and resources, thus reducing no-shows by 5% of all appointments (assuming 2m patients per year)

Faster turn around for care average time

Reduce average time for specialized care from 24 to under 7 days by connecting patients and specialists effectively and directly

Northwell championing holistic care and making a unique business case in healthcare history

Key Strategic Shifts

Healthcare Today

Complex and Ambiguous
Missing Context
Lost in Translation


Healthcare Tomorrow
Transparent and Reassuring
Identifying and Addressing Inequities
Cultural Bridging and Advocacy


Key Learnings

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I realized the importance of meticulous documentation and clarity of the design process when working and collaborating with a large team 

Discovered the power within co-creation with stakeholders. When used at the onset of ideation, co-creation workshops have the potential to break the status quo and push boundaries for innovation/ disruption

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