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Patient XD

Improving the patient experience in Emergency Departments across Alberta.

The Challenge

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Patients in Alberta face various barriers when they access Emergency Departments. An online provincial survey, with 25,915 participants, asking Albertans about their most recent Emergency Department experience indicated that communication with nurses and doctors has the largest effect on patients’ experience. Our team undertook a project to further understand the challenge and find innovative ways to address it.

Our high level goals were to:

Gain a comprehensive understanding of the patient experience in Emergency Departments

Implement tools to facilitate an improved holistic experience


Understand the process

Our team engaged patients and Emergency Department staff in focus group sessions to understand the patient journey from the moment they walk through the doors, to the moment they are discharged. I designed an initial journey map that was used in the first focus group with patients and staff to map the process, identify pain points, and express emotions related to their experience.

Co-create with end users

We engaged patients – who had recently visited an Emergency Department – in a story-telling and co-design workshop where we asked them to share their most recent experience, identify areas of improvement along their journey, and to rapidly prototype solutions.

On-site observational research

We conducted observational research to better understand the patient flow, information seeking behaviours, communication streams, signage systems, and interactions across the various touchpoints in the Emergency Department. This research helped me empathize with our users and understand the process in situ.

Engage frontline staff

I conducted informal on-site interviews with frontline Emergency Department staff to map the service blueprint and the geographical layout of the department. This was key to gaining a comprehensive understanding of the service process from the staff’s perspective, as well as to develop a map of the newly renovated department.

Reframing the objective

Design a new system of communication materials for Emergency Room patients

Through consultation with Human Factors specialists and various stakeholders, our team recognized a need for a whole new system of communication tools to improve patient, staff and visitor experience.

In addition to process maps, we saw the need for navigational maps, instructional graphics in waiting rooms, patient instruction materials, wait time clocks or TVs, interactive media, and wayfinding signage.

Test prototypes on real patients

Our first solution, the patient journey map, is currently being tested in Emergency Departments across Alberta to collect user feedback – with the help of on-site volunteers.

Navigate a new space

One of the Emergency Departments that we were working with had recently undergone major renovations and needed a wayfinding map to assist patients and staff in navigating the new space. Through close collaboration with staff, I created a map that is used throughout the department.


Alberta Health Services


User Research, Ideation, Service Mapping, Strategy, Design


Illustrator, Photoshop