DegreePublic Policy and Global Health '23
My personal experiences as a patient and academic interests in healthcare delivery and policy motivated my pursuit of a research project in this field. I joined the “Design Thinking” project to learn how to address healthcare system challenges and to improve the quality of care for pediatric patients with complex medical conditions.
Children with medical complexity, or CMC, and their families face significant distress navigating healthcare due to gaps in integration of their medical, therapeutic and other care needs. Our team aims to use human-centered design to resolve these care coordination challenges. A key component of this process features brainstorming sessions with stakeholders, including patients, families and healthcare professionals. Hearing directly from parents and healthcare professionals about pain points and their proposed solutions helped me realize the critical role of end-user engagement in problem-solving.
We are working with faculty, master’s students and Ph.D. students from NCSU’s School of Design to guide us in a virtual design process using innovative digital tools, such as Mural. Under the leadership of Dr. Richard Chung and Dr. David Ming, the undergraduate students have scribed at brainstorming meetings, storyboarded pain points, presented and prototyped solutions, performed literature reviews of existing solutions and applications of design processes to healthcare settings and more. We are currently preparing a manuscript detailing our virtual design process in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and helping create testable prototypes to implement at a local clinic. I look forward to the actual implementation and continued evaluation of our prototypes in the coming months.
A recurring theme in my global health and public policy studies has been the difficulty of translations between research, policy and implementation. The work of this Bass Connections team has made me hopeful about the potential for interdisciplinary collaboration to address complex healthcare delivery problems.
I’m grateful to the mentors on this team for encouraging a collaborative environment where all members’ voices are considered and valued mutually. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to explore these healthcare delivery barriers through the lens of policy, applying the knowledge I’ve accumulated from my public policy courses. Conversations about the policy implications of our work were especially intriguing for me as I considered how recent transitions towards value-based models could affect care coordination efforts. Thanks to this project, I have renewed confidence in what I can contribute to future projects given my intersectional roles and experiences as a student, researcher, problem-solver, patient and more.
This project has been one of the most rewarding academic endeavors in my Duke career thus far. The insights I gained through this work have empowered my pursuit of future research or implementation projects that will enhance the experience of pediatric patients broadly, as well as those with rare or complex illnesses.