Find the alternative to the emergency room.


America is misusing the emergency department causing overcrowding, longer waiting time, lower quality of care, decrease patient satisfaction, and even higher rates of mortality. (- American College of Emergency Physicians, ACEP

 Taken at the Rhode Island Hospital Emergency Department

Taken at the Rhode Island Hospital Emergency Department


Contextual inquiry, user and stakeholder interviews, shadow doctors, nurses and technicians. in E.D. (Emergency Department)

In advance of site visit, I created a diagram of what I thought a patient’s journey would be depending on their condition and had staff correct and add to help me better understand the patients' touch points with staff and with out staff. 



Feedback: Users found that they wanted information first before they entered more about themselves. When in pain, patients are interested in where to find the best care fast and deal with medical history later. This informed my flow of the app to present information options first.





Making caring for your home, made simple


Homeowners constantly struggle to keep track of maintenance needs. There is to much to learn, let alone find time to do. Leaving most aspects of their home in danger of braking and causing serious damage to their house and their wallet.

Company: Solaria Labs a Liberty Mutual Endeavor

My Role: Lead UX Designer (the only designer)

Check out the Progress:

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User Research I was involved in

Over this year we have conducted hundreds of interveys and online surveys. The goal is to uncover the most impactful pain points so we can focus on solving for those. Interviewees ranged from landlords to widows to young new home buyers.



What we found is that people tend to struggle with knowing what they should be doing to best maintain their home. And wish they had something they could look to to help. Because dad can't help you with everything.

When you buy a house, it doesn’t come with a manual. There is just so much to keep track of!
— - New homeowner


People with food allergies have trouble eating out for fear that their food might be mixed with ingredients they are allergic to. 



We are here to put restaurants back on the menu for those with food allergies.  Placemate is a smart placemat concept that scans the food on your plate and alerts you, the waitstaff, and the people at your table of the presence of your specified allergens.

The Placemate experience begins with a simple mobile application.  You build your profile which includes selecting your food allergies or aversions.  You are able to find restaurants that have adopted the Placemate technology and even make reservations by connecting your profile with Opentable.  This gives the restaurant a heads up in case they want to plan ahead for your visit.

At the restaurant, once you sit down at your table your profile is loaded by tapping your NFC-enabled mobile device to the bottom right corner of the mat.  The Placemate then displays your allergies on the LCD screen in clear view in the upper right corner of the mat.  The waitstaff and kitchen are also notified of your allergies once you place your food order.  Spectrometers are embedded throughout the middle of the Placemate mat, which analyze the food on your entire plate.  A simple green or red LED light at the top of the mat identifies whether any of the allergies or aversions indicated on your profile are present in your meal.  With this information you can trust the food you are about to eat. Additionally, the restaurant has a Placemate in the back of the house, where they can check your plate before it is delivered to your table. 






Comfort and privacy at a trying time.(hood not photographed here)

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Noise levels and privacy is a big problem with patients who are in holding patterns in the halls of emergency departments causing lack of sleep and overall stressful experience. 


"A few times I have been stuck in the hall waiting to be transferred, my neck and back do not have enough support in their beds. There isn't someone to help, they look so busy, so I get sore in one position".                                                                                                                                                              - Jerry, cancer patient, 88
"I was in an emergency room in New York City, I was already really stressed out but the shouting of the other patients made it even worse while I waited"                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 - Rebecca, 24







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I created a more contoured fit through  creating a mold and this study was learning about how to get the fit right. I learned I need to elongate the pattern but the neck support was very good. The feedback was that it wasn't canceling the noise enough. This has confirmed my choice to move forward with memory foam as my inner structure to provide both support and noise canceling properties. 

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The beginnings of my memory foam pattern... 

This concept, although extreme, starts to demonstrate the foam form used to cup the ears and support the neck. Photographed is the form sitting away from ears. There would be a mechanism that would keep the pillow hugging comfortably close to the head.




Work Sited:

Boarding Photo: https://www.google.com/search?q=boarding+in+er&espv=2&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjP4KeksNbSAhXowlQKHQ50DPAQ_AUICSgC&biw=1371&bih=748#imgrc=veVeiuh_77blpM:



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How might we help utility companies share line workers during storms in an open and immutable ledger system to maximize efficiency?


"A digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically and publicly."                           -Definition of Blockchain


At the IDEO Colab, many energy companies expressed a need for a better resource sharing system when storms. 


I conducted interviews with energy company employees, synthesized and visualized the research. I was also the experience designer for the product we developed by working with the developers on the team to show the most valuable tools for the product and how the workers would use the tools.


  • That energy companies have a bidding system to temporarily acquire resources from other companies in disaster events.

  • They make money off such transactions.


Our team had access to experts from, Exelon Southern Company, Duke Energy, and Baltimore Gas and Electric. I chose to use interviews as our research method base on our 3 day timeline. We needed to gather as much understanding and insight about the process as fast as possible. 



"This[Energy companies] is a co-op. It’s a scenario where we are all altruistic to help each other."

-Jessica Hamm Emerging Tech, Duke Energy

"The single greatest point of inefficiency is lack of preparation while the sun is still shining."

-Dennis Hoover, Principal Technology Innovation Officer at Exelon

"The damage assessment scouts can only document so much. When the crew actually arrives, they might find a larger problem than expected and not have the right tools or training. Then the crew can’t update that information anywhere -- they’d have to call somebody to call somebody to call somebody."

-Ron Osborn, Development Assignments at Duke Energy


  • Companies want to keep the feel-good aspect of sharing crews and have no interest in a capitalization system.

  • There is miscommunications when resources are being allocated before, during and after the storm.






  • Help utility companies communicate better to share and deploy lineworkers to areas of greatest need. 

  • Better data about what’s happening on the ground and where. In addition, this data would be great for future planning.


There are many intersections of technology and design that could be improved on when energy companies convert to storm mode. So many in fact, that I developed a scenario to highlight the different points in the process that could use new or integrated communication technology.


Light bulbs indicate tech/design communication interventions to study in the future.

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Interviews and diagramming the current system helped us develop a persona to focus our user.



We prototyped with blockchain technology to create an immutable ledger of locations and damage assessment. This damage assessment app helps the scouts with initial assessment and then for the lineworkers for a reassessment 

KEY FEATURE: Shared Ledger of Location

Goal:  For safety and resource allocation 

The app tracks location and incidences and uploads to a blockchain and all involved parties have access to this secure history.

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Extremely useful in case of investigation by OSHA, unions or a partner company questioning hours and conditions.

"Blockchain makes it like a blackbox for people. That information can not be destroyed."

-Junning Tong, Blockchain Developer at NASDAQ



“Storm Matthew was a huge impact of $100 million dollars from lodging to food, fueling and more. If we could have shaved even one day off of that we could have saved $10-20 million.”

- Ron Osborne, Development Assignments at Duke Energy

Thank You!


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Pain Point: We all have seen "that kid" screaming and squirming around at the airport because they are bored and tired of waiting. The parent usually looks annoyed with no more entertainment energy to give. Both parties are unhappy with no solution in sight.

This inspired me to investigate what gives children joy and delight when they wait so that everyone can be happier when traveling.


I needed to identify what items were already brought along and when could be transformed to me a waiting tool. The goal was not to add wait to the travel but enhance.


I needed to get inside kids heads. I needed to see first had how they interact and play to better understand potential solutions. 

METHOD: A Kid Workshop

 I visited Pinecroft elementary school in Rhode Island to teach workshops in backpack design. The ages ranged from 5-8. 

METHOD: Survey

I sent out a survey to parents of the Pinecroft school to learn from their perspective what makes it difficult to travel with their kids and what helps them be entertained. I surveyed 10 families.


  • The TOT backpack although compact needs a easy interaction with luggage to carry with ease.
  • Great for children's lap in airplanes, cars, or at home. 



My final Fall semester at University of Virginia Architecture I focused on way finding  issues in healthcare facilities. I superimpose the idealogy of Zaha Hadid’s visual wayfinding through vertical open staircases in the Contempary Art Center to a medical office building.




Contextual research revealed opportunities in the hospital emergency department.


Improve the waiting experience through design solutions.


Current Understanding in the Field

“One’s reaction to queues all depends on how you feel during the wait, from jubilation, to anger, and to every other possible human emotion,”. “The feelings are strongly influenced by queue environment, expectation of duration of delay, and—very important—perception of fairness in selecting people from the line for service.” ( Richard Larson, nickname Dr. Queue | JUN 15, 2015)



I conducted surveys and user/expert interviews at common places to wait. In addition to sorting cards to group waiting condition characteristics. I asked people about how long they waited, their over all experience, and what they wish they had in this condition of waiting. I was timing to compare if their perceive wait equated to the actually timed wait.

WHERE: Airport - Food Service - Checkouts - Home - Amusement Parks - Doctor's Office


 I surveyed 23 people in a food service wait and 25 in airports.


In the airport I changed the survey to test if people responded better to sensorial questions. For example, what does the airport smell like to you? Do you enjoy the smell? This was to take another angle to better understand the users ways of interacting with the spaces.



Through a word sort I was able to start to group waiting conditions based on the physical attributes.

I used the grouping to identify and diagram types of waiting conditions.

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Then I graphed them to segment what condition creates the most anxiety based on my surveys and observations.


PATIENT INTERVIEW: I spoke with Virginia, a current patient in a Cincinnati hospital, who said,

"Many times I feel like they have forgotten me in the exam room when I wait in hospitals. I don't know what's happening next or when I will see the doctor."      - Virginia,87


"Trapped" condition is found in many medical facilities and is considered the worst way to wait. The person has added anxiety because of what they are waiting for.


"Hospitals, specifically emergency departments, have a lot to improve on in their waiting experience."  - Richard Larson


Not all waits are the same. Waiting for an amusement park ride may not be the same as waiting for a burrito versus waiting to be treated at a hospital. The queueing condition could be the same but the mindset of the person in queue could range from low stakes (getting a burrito) to high stakes (waiting for medical treatment). This directly affects the person’s anxiety level and therefore experience of their wait.

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The Outcome

Comfort Hood improves comfort of patients in transition to being admitted. Pathway Booklet helps patients cope while in Emergency Department. FindCare app channels patients to correct care.

The Challenge

Improve the waiting experience in emergency departments through design solutions.

Waiting Case Study | American Hospital Emergency Department

Based on my research, I decided to focus on a specifically extreme* waiting environment, the hospital emergency department.

*Extreme*: meaning a waiting condition unusual to most waiting experiences. Where rules such as "first come first serve" do not apply.

WHERE: Rhode Island Hospital Emergency and Trauma Center and Christ Hospital Emergency Department in Cincinnati. 


Overcrowding of hospitals in the U.S. has caused an imbalanced ratio of staff to patients and clean beds causing an increase in wait times, lower quality of care, decrease in patient satisfaction, even higher rates of mortality and longer waits. 

There were 41,256 admissions from the ED. Mortality generally increased with increasing boarding* time, from 2.5% in patients boarded less than 2 hours to 4.5% in patients boarding 12 hours or more.  *ACEP believes a “boarded patient” is defined as a patient who remains in the emergency department after the patient has been admitted to the facility, but has not been transferred to an inpatient unit.

- American College of Emergency Physicians, ACEP

WHY CARE?: Emergency Department is Hospital’s Front Door

Too many go to the Emergency Department for everything, including routine medical care. One of the main reasons for this increase is the number of uninsured patients in America. 

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) is a federal law that requires anyone coming to an emergency department to be stabilized and treated, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. Since its enactment in 1986 it has remained an unfunded mandate.

“43% of all hospital admissions originate in the ED”

- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

“The emergency medical system is stretched beyond capacity. From 1994 to 2004, visits to hospital emergency departments increased from 93.4 million to 110.2 million-an 18 percent jump. Meanwhile, the numbers of hospitals, hospital beds, and emergency departments have declined significantly.”

- U.S. Department of Health and Human Service



Contextual inquiry, user and stakeholder interviews, shadow doctors, nurses and technicians. in E.D. (Emergency Department)

In advance of site visit, I created a diagram of what I thought a patient’s journey would be depending on their condition and had staff correct and add to help me better understand the patients' touch points with staff and with out staff. 







USERS: I identified my user through research on historical waiting experiences and observations in the Emergency Department.


The users live within a network of locations and resources. Defining the ecosystem helps me better understand the relationships and potential effects of waiting interventions on the whole system.




I spoke with Virginia and Jerry, previous patients of Cincinnati Hospital, who said:

"Many times I feel like they have forgotten me and I don't know whats happening next or when I will see the doctor" - Virginia, 87

"A few times I have been stuck in the hall waiting to be transferred, my neck and back do not have enough support in their beds. There isn't someone to help, they look so busy, so I get sore in one position" - Jerry, 88


"Many times I will wear my white coat even though its hot and the hospital will not wash it for me because patients respond better when they see it." - Dr. Rozzo


" When the doctor comes in I'm usually pretty quiet, trying to jot down everything they say for my dad(patient)" - Patricia, 59



PRIORITIES: I distilled the opportunities into categories to find what would be most viable, desirable, and feasible.

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