9 weeks | 3 -person team | Penn Medicine Clinic
Beside You is the outcome of a research-intensive project for the Penn Medicine PEACE Family Clinic. The set of cards focuses on improving emotional care for patients experiencing miscarriage.
Miscarriage is a major emotional event that affects one in five women. But medical systems overwhelmingly set professionals up to focus on physical, rather than emotional, care after pregnancy loss. In 2017, Penn Medicine's PEACE family clinic teamed up with the Center for Health Care Innovation and the Integrated Product Design program to address patient feedback that follow-up care was sorely lacking. They wanted to know:
How can we better integrate emotional care for women experiencing pregnancy loss?
Our design process focused on ethnographic research. Over the course of 5 weeks, we connected with 14 individuals in 60-90 minute interviews. Each participant had experienced at least 1miscarriage and all but one had lost a pregnancy in the last 5 years. All but two had successful pregnancies after miscarrying.
Our research revealed a wide range of timelines and medical touch points throughout the patient journey. In spite of these variables, we heard repeatedly how blindsiding and uncertain the process felt, pointing to opportunities to introduce emotional care and recovery both before and after a miscarriage has ended.
Miscarriage is more than the loss of a new life.
It’s an event that moves women to redefine their physical health and personal identity.
There’s no handbook for communicating or grieving a pregnancy loss.
Without a set of social norms, women are left on their own to determine how to move forward and heal.
Drawing on our research insights, we knew our solution needed to...
Reduce barriers to sharing
Bridge the gap between ‘normal’ and ‘crisis’
Be quick and easy for medical staff to implement
Offer tangible experiences
We came up with dozens of ideas, and narrowed them down to just two to further develop. In addition to our design criteria, knowledge of our client's short implementation timeline and limited budget guided our decision-making.
PROTOTYPING & DEVELOPMENT
Would you share your story?
We asked people to call a dedicated phone line and anonymously share a moment that made them feel defenseless or vulnerable.
Their response: “I would tell my story this way. I wasn't looking for encouragement necessarily, but I needed an outlet to share what happened.”
Would you DIY?
We made simple black & white postcards and asked people how, if at all, they’d put them to use.
Their reponse: “I’d share these cards by giving them to others... or I’d leave them somewhere random, the way Postsecret readers sometimes hide notes in books.”
Beside You is a packaged set of resources, tools, and stories to promote healing and guide communication.
Each set comes with local resources to connect with on the ground support, activities to process emotions and promote outreach, and stories to uncover shared experiences. My teammates and I worked together to select content and develop the layouts, and I illustrated each card.
With Beside You, PEACE patients receive tools to guide emotional recovery much earlier in the process: at the point of diagnosis. Each card set offers women a variety of ways to consider their grief and provides them with the tools to take action, connecting them with others who share their experience and bridging communication gaps with their existing supporters.