we Tripled Enrollment and completion rates to Rescue health research

Without a formal design to deliver their service, the research team fell behind schedule, and participants didn't get medical care as promised. 

As word spread through the community, participants stopped showing up and the numbers were dropping - fast.

Stakeholders worried that funding would be cut if they didn't have enough participant data.

 that without enough participants to complete the study to qualify for additional funding.

It was a win-win proposition: families in rural Appalachia would receive free dental and health care in exchange for their data. 

The problem was evident at the clinics - there wasn't a clear process. Some of the participants went through all the questionnaires but didn’t receive dental care as promised. As word spread through the community, participants no longer trusted the people in lab coats.

Completion rates skyrocketed 
from 29%  >> 87%.

Participant Completion

90% of participants reported they would return to the study next year.

As the Service Designer I lead the research, testing and design.

In my role as a Service Designer I conducted a 4 week sprint along with 2 graduate students and clinical supervisor. We surveyed the clinic visits and used our data to map and understand the current flow of these visits. Service Design, strategy, design sprint leader.

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Diary Studies

At the outset there was a big problem. When the participants arrived at the clinic, they had to be checked in. The clinic staff had to confirm identity, assign a tablet computer and headphones, and then build a list of their family members, assign relationship codes and then draw a three generation pedigree for each person. Not only does this take time, it's a complex task.

I'd already built a mobile app for the tablets that had all the self-report questionnaires, and I knew it would be more efficient to allow the participants to do their own onboarding. I define that in the UX case study.

Another obstacle was specific to the mothers with young children. The kids would get bored and unruly while the parents worked on the surveys. 

No internet, kids crying, nobody designated to help users with their tablets. Clinicians calling out when it was time for someone's exam or bloodwork.


The project combined field and secondary research to understand the elevator experience in the following dimesions:

  • User-product service system interaction 
  • Integration with the building design
  • Product characteristics (aesthetics, digital and technology)
  • Purchase decision making process

During the research, several methods and tools were used to obtain a global picture of the elevator universe:

End-users were interviewed in depth and invited to generative sessions in the different locations to gather a human understanding of the culture within the elevator context, highlighting common patterns in the different countries visited.

More than 90 key buildings were visited to observe the aesthetic preferences, pain points and riding experiences. Shadowing and fictitious user journeys helped sustancially to compare product features from different manufactures and the user interactions inside and outside the cabin.

The team researched the business context transformation and grasped the key trends impacting the elevator industry, not only focusing on vertical transportation but also paying attention to the smart mobility ecosystem and the technology integration.

Eventually, top class architecture firms such Norman Foster and Rui Otake were interviewed to grasp how to enhance the elevator's user experience and discuss their future vision about in-building mobility.

*I skip research details purposefully due to confidentiality terms.

Exam Schedules and Flexibility

Emergencies that needed attention were happening each day. The dental teams weren't able to keep up with their patient list because their schedules would invariably get derailed by an emergency that had to be attended to.

We created a queue(FIFO) of participants and the next person to be seen would be called to the clinic. They weren't directly scheduled to a provider as it had been previously. The patient/participant would be seen by the next available provider. This alleviated the scheduling backlog and kept the exams rolling. We also requested 2 additional chairs in the clinic to be sure everyone would be seen.

We also had participants go directly from the clinic to the waiting area for the physical exam and blood draw. If there was a wait for the physicals, they'd get their bloodwork done before the exam. Allowing the flexibility in the exams allowed participants to have everything done at once with little wait time. Then they had more time to dedicate to the surveys, and the change in activity created a nice break to the day.

Onboarding was a bottleneck,
so we made the tablets do the heavy lifting.

we have the participants list their family members on their tablets, we only need to check them in.

we remove the bottleneck during arrivals.

we need everyone to stay on schedule in order to fulfill the promise of dental and health exams.


There wasn't time for a full staging and run through, so we decided to train the staff during a clinic.

Using the van, we brought the tablets to one of the clinic sites. We overlooked the lunch break, and hadn't accounted for the time to walk a child to their parent prior to their dental exam or bloodwork. These were adjusted in the second week by adjusting the times logged on the participants software. 

While there were still snags in the process, the service was vastly improved. The cost per day increased but the quality of the data collected and the volume of the data collected more than doubled.

  • Participants indicated they'd be "very happy" to continue in follow up studies.

Project Impact & Lessons

The Families Created
a Mini Network Effect

By talking about the study within their communities, the participating families influenced trustworthiness of the project outcome and more families began to self-recruit.

Test Every Touchpoint
of a Service Design

Adding in a lunch had a positive effect on the participants, but bringing in and maintaining a food station required another staff member, additional coordination and expense.

Having the children escorted to their parents before their dental exams caused us to fall behind schedule.