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The Path &
The Heart Aids

A New Future for Hospital Discharges

Paper Named "A study of user experience design for hospital discharge" Submitted to

ICED 23, 24th International Conference on Engineering Design

Time: 2022 Spring
Team: Katia Krotova, Anna Schuessler, and Jenny Yi
Role: UX Researcher/Designer, Product Designer, Experience Designer

Tool: Figma, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop

* What is The Path & The Heart Aids

The Path & The Heart Aids is a combined solution to today's hospital discharge process for heart failure patients, which aims to bridge the communicative gap by making the transition smooth, informed, and human-centered, which ultimately reduces the chance of being readmitted after being discharged.

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Why The Path & The Heart Aids

At the beginning of this semester, our team focused on working on a communications problem, and we found our match when we started thinking about the hospital discharge process, specifically as it is experienced by heart failure patients. There is currently a lack of access to the information hospital patients need to make informed decisions about their care and transition back to home life after a hospitalization. The many stakeholders involved in a patient’s care use different modes of communication, and not all of them are coordinated. This is exemplified by the hospital discharge process, which can be a very confusing and frustrating experience for patients and their caregivers. These gaps in communication have dire consequences. They can threaten a patient’s recovery and transition back into their home lives, and can also result in high hospital readmission rates, which are costly for everyone involved. Information can empower patients to take charge of their situations, ask relevant questions, and prepare for a new lifestyle after discharge. 

Goal 1

Shorten Length of Stay

Goal 2

Reduce readmissions & penalties

Hospital Discharge Happens Every Day...
What Exactly are Problems We Are Facing?

Problem Definition

1 Facts of Hospital Discharge

35 million

people are discharged from hospitals in the US annually


of Medicare beneficiaries experience an unplanned hospital readmission

1 million

hospitalizations are attributed to heart failure annually, which adds up to 6.5 million hospitalization days in the United States, with an estimated cost across the system of... $37.2 billion/year

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2 Many Stakeholders of Hospital Discharge

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3  A Disorienting Experience for Patients

How to Fix the Communicative Gap as a Key Solution?

Research Methods

1 Simulations

Exercises to better understand the daily challenges & obstacles that older adults face

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2 Interviews

Building a deeper understanding of our users through individual and group interviews

Our interviewees include 85+ lifestyle leaders, social workers, doctors, nurses, policymakers, and healthcare professionals

Research Synthesis

After synthesizing our research, we concluded 4 takeaways and 5 ideas that together established our design directions: 

4 Takeaways

focus on communication between doctors/nurses and patient

empower the patient with knowledge and questions they can ask

the importance of the quality of health care 

lots of opportunities for connection between different stakeholders (social workers following up after discharge, staff at transitional facility coming to discharge meetings, etc.)

5 Ideas

is there a way to check in at different times to see what questions come up (i.e., at the hospital, when you are settled at home)?

resources such as healthcare programs for people to get small tips that don't rise to the level of question for a doctor/nurse

an easier way to check insurance coverage

list of questions patients could ask themselves to see if they feel ready to move on from the hospital

a way to do pre-emptive education with older people and families so these situations aren't so new and stressful

How Might We Bridge the Communicative Gap in the Discharge Process by Making the Transition Smooth, Informed, and Human-centered, which Ultimately Reduces the Chance of Being Readmitted after Being Discharged?

Design Thinking

1 Brainstorming

Workshops to collect ideas, share thoughts, and try possible solutions

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2 Sketching & Modeling

Testing ideas with both low-fi and mid-fi methods

3 Physical Prototype

Creation of a physical prototype to visualize final ideas

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What Comes up as the Solution?

Anchor 1

The Path & The Heart Aids

The Path and The Heart Aids is one virtual interface and one physical package product. The APP that can be integrated in the hospital's bedside screen and your phone is called the Path, and the patients would receive a customized package called the Heart Aids with toolkits covering three aspects including medical equipment, emotional support and educational care when they are discharged. The idea is to bridge the communicative gap in the discharge process by making the transition smooth, informed, and human-centered, which ultimately reduces the chance of being readmitted after being discharged. 

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High-Fidelity Design of the Path

The Path contains six main functions based on patients' heart failure journey map once admitted to hospital till discharged. And the high-fidelity design focuses on seven steps including onboarding besides those six main functions.

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0 Onboarding


avoid the clinical “form filling”, yet it maintains professionalism and concision

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1 Diagnosis

Features that manage the diagnostic process, understand the health condition, and prepare for life changes

2.1 Pre-treatment

Features that educate on health management, costs, and prepare for discharge

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2.2 One-Stop Shop

Customizable to the specific needs of each patient

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3 Treatment

Features that keep care provider team, patients, and caregivers on the same page

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4 In-patient Stay

Features that assist in regaining autonomy, emotional recovery, connect to community resources

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5 Discharge

Features that streamline coordination and patient education, and celebrates discharge

6 Monitor

Features that manage appointments, tracks and reinforce good habits for a healthy recovery

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The Heart Aids

The Heart Aids is a tailored package of goods and services that fulfill needs in emotional and physical health. While in hospital, patients can use the Path App to choose what they will need after being discharged with advice from doctors, nurses, social workers, and caregivers. On the day of discharge, patients get their package either delivered to nursing unit or home. 

The Heart Aids contain three aspects of toolkits, which comprehensively respond to the question of hospital discharge. They are Meds: medical equipment, Eds: educational support, and Ids: emotional care

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In this sample package, the patient chooses one pillbox and one blood pressure as his/her Meds, one weekly plan as Eds, and a special discharge party as Ids. 

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The special discharge party is a service that people can order as a celebration of discharge. Instead of leaving the hospital waiting for hours, this party can be regarded as a graduation ceremony to celebrate the patient of becoming healthy again, to thank the healthcare workers for their work, and to memorize the patients living in the same nursing unit of their friendship. Discharge process is the transition to another beginning!

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The Path and the Heart Aids aims to work together to make the discharge process smoother by empowering the patients with knowledge of their own conditions, and strengthening the communication between patients, doctors, nurses, social workers, and caregivers. This system is more as a platform for better communication, where various stakeholders can be on the same page. 

Copyright ©2023, Qingyu Cai, All rights reserved

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