Akshata Malhotra
UX Researcher & Designer
Peterson Center on Healthcare

Presenter Profile: Akshata Malhotra leads the human centered design & research team at Peterson Center on Healthcare. She enjoys solving complex problems by breaking them down into human needs and creating viable solutions, along with her colleagues, users and stakeholders. She believe design has a role in not just solving aesthetic or functional problems, but systemic, wicked problems by understanding and questioning assumptions, and creating tangible, human centered solutions. 

Akshata is an alumni of School of Visual Arts, where I studied Masters in Design for Social Innovation, and is often found experimenting with new recipes or trying to find the perfect balance in yoga poses.

Presentation Title: Design, Research and Strategy for Social Impact

Outline:  Growing up in India as the only designer in a family of doctors is where my story started. After moving to the US to do my masters, I realized how different the healthcare worlds in India and US are. In india, where patients are often struggling to find treatment that suits their pocket, physicians need to talk about costs as a consideration. Whereas in the US, cost is totally opaque, to the extent that even doctors don’t know how much treatments or tests cost. This led me to where I am, the Peterson Center on Healthcare, a non-profit with the mission to reduce healthcare costs. 

At the Peterson Center, we initially started as a digital design team- we were building a digital toolkit for clinics to implement best practices to improve their efficiency and reduce cost of care. However, we soon realized that changing clinical operations requires many more resources and time than we are ready to dedicate. So the organization pivoted: to a new strategy of finding and filtering new opportunities that help save cost, and investing in those. Instead of implementation, we focused on strategy and investment (more upstream). This shift was an organizational shift and not design specific. But what role could design play in this (seemingly) businessy space? How could design be included and add value?

This is where we applied our UX hat and applied it to our own organization: what role can design play in this shift, during this transition? We spoke to our leaders and emerged with a design services team that helps stakeholders make their vision tangible, solve strategic challenges for teams by facilitating hard conversations, and clarify thinking by bringing in feedback from the field. This shift has completely changed our design operations and activities of course, but has tremendously increased our impact.

Company Website: https://petersonhealthcare.org