Design on a Dime - Recycling Project

Have you ever thought, “there must be a better way to do this?” When the challenge involves humans and behaviour, there may well be an easier way. You might even know the solution yourself. At the Sibley Innovation Hub, we use a three-stage process for innovation projects. We call it Listen, Imagine, Do! In this “Design on a Dime” series, we will be discussing some projects that didn’t take long at all to implement.

The first project in this series was led by Rob Jewel, a leader in the Environmental Services Department here at Sibley Hospital.



Rob noticed there were four various receptacles for four different types of waste. He watched employees in the cafeteria throw out waste in the wrong bins. He suspected employees might not fully appreciate the recyclable material and proper sorting of it.



After Rob had gained enough information, he went into the Imagine phase of the Sibley Innovation Method. He drew from his past knowledge of places that have successfully made trash sorting easier and more obvious. Rob thought of college campuses where they often have physical representations of the waste which should go into specific cans.



Rob entered the Do phase. This is prototyping, testing and implementation. He started by prototyping signs to would hang next to the corresponding containers. He glued on real-life utensils and bowls (the ones used in the hospital cafeteria) to make it easier for employees to recognize by examples.

After his testing was complete, Rob put tape next to the containers and wrote the corresponding word on it. This made it obvious to employees where the different types waste should go. Lastly, Rob tested his prototypes by watching as employees spent more time considering where to place their waste.

This project is just one of many examples proving that design and implementation does not have to be a long process. All it takes is a little listening, imagining, and doing.


Tucker Hemphill

Experience Design Intern

Johns Hopkins Sibley Innovation Hub


Bringing the Person out of the Patient (pt. I)

I’ve been meaning to write this for a bit but moving into that big beautiful building has been the focal point of my professional life.  On that move: *standing ovation to all*!  We crushed that.

I know there have been many emails to that effect thus making this blog post all late and wrong but wow that was a heck of a thing to be a part of.  Many moons ago, as I sat in Hayes hall listening to Mr. Sloan during orientation, could I have imagined the Sibley we have now. I can tell you the amount of lives impacted in the New Sibley will make all of those who had a hand in its creation proud.  Many thanks to all involved.  

But. As great as it is, it's only a space, and with all respect it's the people who fill the space and provide the care that make it (the New) Sibley.

Sibley was at its finest during the move to the New Tower and that move was a special thing to be a part of.  The fact that so many employees basically bailed on their families for 4-5 days to help make sure patients, the people taking care of patients and the equipment needed to do so were moved safely and successfully showed that.


Through all the moving of things there was a constant focus on people.  People, both employees and patients are what this blog post is about because 'employee' and 'patient' are just titles we just carry for a little while, and we should be able to connect with each other on levels beyond our temporary titles.

As incredible as the move and all the things leading up to the move was, I’m actually writing this blog post to walk you through the process of my favorite *bias disclosed* part of the New Tower.  They’re called About Me Boards and they’re in EVERY FLIPPING ROOM!  That is sort of the end of the journey so we’re going to pump the brakes and back up to the beginning of this tale.  I’m going to tell the tale (and it's a 2 parter so if you hate cliff hangers, then best to bail now).


Being as this tale was born in the Innovation Hub, and this Internet space belongs to them and is reserved for Design, I'm going to tell the story in the Hub’s format: listen, imagine, do. Frankie would be quick to remind that the ‘tell’-explaining the work- is also crucial but I'm saying that 2 blog posts count as my ‘tell’.


‘About Me Boards’’ started with Dr. Ramunno (pictured showing his skillz on the hoverboard) and a great group of docs, nurses and some execs listening to patients talk about the experiences they had at Sibley.


To be brutally honest, it was a tough day with so much to process and so much to hear from people for whom we missed opportunities to provide excellent care. But these being empathy interviews, we smiled and listened, and while we listened we took away themes.  One of those themes was one thing that everybody already knows but that we rarely know how to address—that patients want to be seen as people. They don't want to have to retell their story to every new person they meet. So we sought a way to help get patients seen as people.


We thought of other places where they do this and came up with hotels which, don't roll your eyes, because I'm with you—I think the hospital is very different than a hotel and we shouldn't try to do all aspects of what they do. However, somebody noted how when you check into some of these fancy-pants hotels they know who you are before you even speak up, so we wondered how might we get some of the patients information shared without them having to say the same things over and over again.

Our pie-in-the-sky dream was some sort of screen above the patient's bed driven by a tablet they would have in their hands. The screen would show what the patient wanted to be called and one or two more tidbits of info that reminded everyone who came into the room that there was much more to the person in the bed than their diagnoses. The patient would be empowered to control the information on the screen, but we knew we had to start with something simple.  


Our prototype for this model involved yours truly interviewing patients, then sprinting down to the Hub to type their responses up on a PowerPoint slide with some flashy clipart and printing it large and in color.  Then I’d hightail it back up to the room and show the patient what I’d made for them, and with their blessing, tape it above the head of their bed.

Patients loved to be given something that was about them.  One lady in particular brought her About Me from 4E to the Ren, back to 4E and back to the Ren again.  Having them placed above the head of the bed meant that it was very hard for anybody in the room to address the patient and NOT see the About Me Board. The problem here was scale.  Getting this substantial workflow hardwired into somebody’s already busy day was challenging.  I was the main person doing them, and while I loved the conversation, connection, and stories I heard, my favorite part was whenever I would hear a conversation other staff members had with a patient because of their About Me Board connection and most of all when I would hear them sharing their own.  As much as those stories would inspire me, I could not do an About Me Board for every patient.

The stories I heard and the conversations patients had with some of our staff made it easy to see that there was value in this.  Maybe not immediately in HCAHPs or some other measurable outcome, but in connecting people to their health care team in times of need.  I have a few HIPPA friendly examples I've shared of the early prototypes.  I’ve rambled enough for now, but next time I’ll share how we got to where we are now, and how I failed a whole bunch before getting it right.

Same as usual with a blog please leave some feedback (email me at, thanks for reading and for all you do for Sibley.

promising togetherness

Hello Sibley!  Happy October!  Congratulations on the opening of the new building, I can only imagine what an exciting and exhausting time it must be.  I am truly honored that the Hubsters have invited me to write remotely from NYC.  Medical school has been exciting so far—there are endless amounts to learn about science, culture, and people.  The weeks seem to be flying by, even though I am awake the vast majority of the time.  I look forward to continue hearing about the things going on at Sibley, and I hope that you are all well and enjoying what feels like the true beginning of fall!          

Since arriving in NYC, I have quickly resumed my pursuit to understand what it means to join the medical profession (along with a new pursuit to try all the different foods in the city).  In the first week of school, we began to have conversations around this very topic, and much to my delight, we explored the Hippocratic Oath—the pledge that all medical students will take when they graduate (see full text at the end of the post).  Taking this oath marks the joining of the profession and becoming a part of something that is bigger than any individual.  It tells us to honor tradition, to represent those who have come before us, and commit to “preserve [medicine’s] finest traditions.”  Before this conversation, I don't think I have ever considered what it means to take an oath.    

Have you ever taken an oath?  It is such an impactful word in itself, regardless of the actual definition of the word.  The phrase “take an oath” just feels heavy.  I think the most common oaths are probably those that come in the form of wedding vows or in the military.  Maybe one would consider the Pledge of Allegiance a form of oath?  Joining a fraternity or sorority?  I am surely missing other things.  

Screen Shot 2016-09-28 at 11.18.39 PM.png

So, what has the Hippocratic Oath meant to medicine?  For some fun facts, the Hippocratic oath wasn’t formally used in all medical schools until recently.  It was actually only first used in the last couple centuries, with most medical schools joining to use some form of it in the last few decades.  For something written in the B.C. era, it seems odd to me that the oath is one of the more notorious aspects of the medical profession even though its use has only peaked recently.  Another fun fact, the exact phrase “do no harm” is not actually in the original oath—even though most of us sum up the oath with those three words.  The Hippocratic oath has evolved over the years to reflect the changes in views on abortion, lethal injection, and euthanasia, but much of the original sentiment remains the same.    

It excited me to have a chance to explore what the oath means for us as medical students.  I enjoyed seeing how my peers and some current physicians view the “why” of medicine.  How they use the oath to protect, guide, and define medicine and their actions.  It is the foundation of the culture of a community—a contract in its own way.  With my design thinking hat, however, my mind quickly drifted elsewhere.  Who is the user of this oath?  Who does it affect?  Why is it important?

The oath gives a broad outline of how physicians should act, how they should serve, and what they should value.  Surely these are things that are for physicians to know and use, but embracing these traits changes the way one interacts with the world.  It makes me think that, although the users are the physicians and medical professionals, the people affected by this oath are the patients and the community. I just have to wonder if anyone outside of medicine has ever been a part of defining this oath?  What would they want it to say?  What would a patient or community want their doctors to pledge?

One aspect I think is missing is the sentiment of being with patients—of togetherness.  The oath seems to constantly put physicians on a higher or lower level than patients—never the same.  Using “patients” in 4 of the 11 statements, the verbs of those statements are about serving, advocating, and protecting.  The other 7 statements speak to the need to uphold the tradition and integrity of the profession.  Thus, the physician’s role is to always either be serving the patient or be working to sustain something that is larger than any single person, which doesn’t seem to leave much space in the middle.  It doesn’t highlight being with someone—connecting with a person where they are and committing to joining them on that level.   

I thought more strongly about the oath just last week when I found out a high school teacher of mine passed away this summer due to cancer.  She was young, and it really broke my heart to hear the news.  My normal evening quickly turned blue.  I hadn’t been particularly close to this teacher since high school, but we had known each other well during that time.  I looked up to her, and she was one of those beautiful humans who would sacrifice themselves for each and every student, never letting anyone settle for less than their best.  She would always be able to tell when something was wrong.  She would see it on my face and wouldn’t let it go.  She would ask me and hear me.  Those were some of the first moments where I started to appreciate the way that sharing burdens can help someone not feeling alone or embarrassed or trapped—how seemingly individual challenges can be approached together.  She changed my journey, and I am sad for the loss of such a positive influence in this world.    

For some reason, I found a connection between the oath and my sadness from this news.  I find sadness in thinking about those that we lose, because they have all affected and influenced somebody else.  Every single person has changed the journey of others in some way.  I find some internal struggle at the thought that the physician's role (according to the oath) focuses on serving, advocating for, and protecting a person—not to begin by appreciating, connecting with, and valuing them. 

Maybe I am toeing a line, but I am not trying to say that the first set of verbs are bad, instead that they feel a bit incomplete and impersonal.  In moments of duress, why do we have to pledge to be either subservient or protective?  Do we assume that those are the best methods to help people when they are in need?  People are people.  My teacher’s mission was not to serve or protect me—her mission was to be with me and help me grow.  She saw me as me, no matter what, and that is what made her so amazing.  She joined me in whatever place I happened to be.  Do relationships naturally have moments of sacrificing for one another?  Yes.  Do they sometimes have moments of protectiveness?  Of course.  But, they aren't based on those sentiments first.  What if we pledged to be a team?  What if we pledged to always meet someone where they are and build from there?          

Oaths are the baseline for a culture and its expectations.  They are meant to be forever.  They help to explain motivations and objectives.  But, they also affect other people—not just the pledge takers.  They have effects outside of the professions, the institutions, or the nations in which they are made.  They surely change your outlook on the world, but they also change the way the world looks back.  

So, back to where I started—have you ever taken an oath?  Has that oath affected you? How about those around you?  Who does the oath serve?  What do you want your oath to be? 

Andrew Yin

Please feel free to share any thoughts or ideas, thanks for reading!


The Oath as taken at Weill Cornell Medical College:

I do solemnly vow, to that which I value and hold most dear:

That I will honor the Profession of Medicine, be just and generous to its members, and help sustain them in their service to humanity;

That just as I have learned from those who preceded me, so will I instruct those who follow me in the science and the art of medicine;

That I will recognize the limits of my knowledge and pursue lifelong learning to better care for the sick and to prevent illness;

That I will seek the counsel of others when they are more expert so as to fulfill my obligation to those who are entrusted to my care;

That I will not withdraw from my patients in their time of need;

That I will lead my life and practice my art with integrity and honor, using my power wisely;

That whatsoever I shall see or hear of the lives of my patients that is not fitting to be spoken, I will keep in confidence;

That into whatever house I shall enter, it shall be for the good of the sick;

That I will maintain this sacred trust, holding myself far aloof from wrong, from corrupting, from the tempting of others to vice;

That above all else I will serve the highest interests of my patients through the practice of my science and my art;

That I will be an advocate for patients in need and strive for justice in the care of the sick.

I now turn to my calling, promising to preserve its finest traditions, with the reward of a long experience in the joy of healing.

I make this vow freely and upon my honor.

The Virtual Chaplain Connection

Sibley Chaplain Robin Walker demonstrates the new ChapChat videoconferencing software.

Sibley Chaplain Robin Walker demonstrates the new ChapChat videoconferencing software.

Being housed in the only hospital in the D.C. metropolitan area with an Innovation Hub, Sibley’s chaplaincy care team has the opportunity to reconfigure hope in new and exciting ways. We have recently developed a new way to journey with our patients: ChapChat, a virtual chaplain connection much like Skype or FaceTime.

As care providers, we know many patients come through our doors experiencing a variety of medical obstacles. As a team, we are concerned with the spiritual and emotional healing of patients. Working with the Innovation Hub, our team has set up a secure videoconferencing platform which will allow our patients to request an e-chaplain appointment by dialing in using a secure link. Inpatients are then connected by video with the staff chaplain using a hospital-issued iPad. Upon request, outpatients will be issued a secure web link to connect to the staff chaplain from home. ChapChat allows up to three participants to conference into the session, which can allow family in a different city or state to be part of the spiritual care conversation. 

Our team has also embraced the "Lean" culture. Sibley’s ChapChat enables us to reach our patients with the ministry of presence when our patients need us most, within minutes, not hours. As a Lean initiative, ChapChat will operate as a cost saving initiative, too, reducing the necessity for a chaplain to physically be on site after-hours and by allowing outpatients to have continued spiritual care without being in the facility.

ChapChat, the virtual chaplain connection, will be available in fall 2016 for our oncology and palliative care inpatient and outpatient population. 

This article was written by care team writers Teressa Eggleston, Wesley Arning, Paulette A. McPherson and Robin P. Walker. For more information, please contact Chaplain Robin Walker at 202 537 4258 or

Extreme Sprint!

Rehab Clinical Program Manager Jessica Michie facilitated a design session to improve the community sessions held at Sibley’s warm-water therapeutic pool. The group of 16 brought together staff from all different areas of OP Rehab, including Registration, Front Desk, Therapists, Rehab Techs, and the Director of Rehabilitation Services.

This sprint differed from most, however.  It was one of the fastest sprints we’ve ever seen – the team went through the process of challenge/pain point identification, creating “How Might We’s,” several rounds of brainstorming and selecting ideas to test – all in one hour!


Jessica set the stage by echoing Chip’s words about the formidable assets at Sibley’s disposal – 20 acres at the top of Embassy Row in the nation’s capital at a time of unprecedented change in healthcare. She added that we also have the area’s only warm-water therapeutic pool that can provide relief for a variety of conditions – and our challenge and opportunity is to figure out how to best utilize that resource.

As the participants thought through ways to improve different aspects of the community pool experience, such as user safety and the scheduling process, Jessica encouraged her team to try a different kind of brainstorming: one which includes multiple, fast-paced group sessions using Hub Advisor Doug Solomon’s trademark of coming up with at least one idea that is either impractical, immoral, or illegal. With this technique, while none of the more wild ideas may ultimately end up being selected, they can open a pathway to new ways of thinking about the situation.

With the encouragement to go broad, the team came up with a wider variety of possible solutions, from new types of classes that could be offered, to tightening up attendance policies, to creating swipable IDs like most fitness clubs use.


Jessica and Dianne McCarthy, the team’s Director, were surprised and excited by the new ideas and suggestions they heard from the team. Jessica said “It was great to see everybody working together and having fun figuring out some things we’ve been thinking about for a while. We came up with some common themes and ideas that were new and unexpected.”

One of the best things about the Design Thinking methodology is its versatility: it can be used for many different purposes, from addressing an issue that is large-scale and complex to something very small and specific. While the process of designing a specific service or product can take weeks, months and even years, many of the DT tools can be used in quick sessions like this. Sometimes it’s enough just to bring a team together in a different environment, in a different way, and create space for them to be heard in the decision-making process.

Quite a few of the participants had never participated in a design thinking activity before, and many had never been in the Hub. We were blown away by the energy, creativity, and openness they brought to the process!

Janet Satter -

Janet Satter -

Leaving a Foot in the Door

This post is a bit overdue from the previous, but I did leave some thoughts on the table in that previous post.  As I write this post, I am amidst ending my full time presence at Sibley (for now) and am transitioning to my next adventure in medical school.  I am so thankful to Sibley and the Hub and each and every one of you for this past year-plus, because it has been more impactful than I could ever describe with words.  Each of you have forever changed the way I look at the world.  So, all I will say is thank you, and I hope you enjoy the post! 

Transitioning from one journey to another—taking one foot out and putting a new one in somewhere else—is one of the hardest things to do.  We are forced to move from one wide open door to another that is open just a crack.  We are given all this time to reflect on beginnings—how little, innocuous things can lead to big, impactful ones—suddenly recognizing some of the buds that have blossomed and bloomed beyond any of our original expectations. 

So, when did I first put my foot into Sibley’s journey?  I started as a volunteer—intimidated by the number of people in the hospital and still anxiously wondering if healthcare was where I wanted to be.  Thankfully, as always, the people here calmed me.  Marianne and Jonna were kind enough to find me an assignment even though I was late in signing up.  Mimi showed me the hospital in what proved to be the first of many wonderful, caring moments.  I still have my 3887 volunteer ID number pasted on the back of my badge, so I don’t forget where it all began! 


That start proved to be the beginning of an irreplaceable period of time for me.  It was that little thing that led to something larger than I could have imagined.  But, behind the "when", there is also a "why".  Why did I decide to put my foot in the door of healthcare and then the Hub?

A core, foundational piece was losing my mom—to me she exemplifies the beauty and burden of unending selflessness.  Even as she paved her way through lung and brain surgery, radiation, chemo, and endless appointments, she never showed a crack in her armor or passion to take care of others.  Through thick and thin, she fought both cancer and the attention that being sick inevitably brings.  She never wavered in who she was and who she wanted to be.    

Through it all, she and I never really talked about it together—she cared for me, I cared for her, and she cared for me some more.  I watched her carry the burden of it all, fighting to protect others from the situation.  As she continued to decline, I stayed quiet.  I wasn’t really sure what to do.  I refused to believe the inevitable, even when she started hospice.  We just continued to care for one another.  She and I never figured out how to face the spotlight shining upon us—to face the situation.      

Over the years, I still wonder about the conversation that never happened.  I wonder about how or who or what would have opened that dialogue.  I fear what we would have said.  I don't even know what we would have talked about.  Maybe she didn’t want to share that with me or maybe I wouldn’t have been able to accept it, but I wish someone or something had at least built the bridge that we could then decide to walk across.  No matter how tough, I do think it was a conversation that should have happened.          

But, I can see why it didn’t happen.  I can see why this is all so tough.  No matter the treatment or the diagnosis, there are so many other factors that come along with that medical spotlight—so many burdens and unknowns for the person who is ill and the people there to support.  Going through it all with my mom was my first glimpse of that.  Whether it was getting her to appointments, or going through signing a power of attorney, or worrying about the financial stuff, there are moments that are nearly impossible to prepare for and even harder to feel like you can do them well.  Because of that, I think we fear that spotlight.  It means change.  It forces us to do things we are not used to or comfortable with.  It brings attention that we do not ask for.  Nowadays, the medicines and the treatments available give us more time to avoid the spotlight, but we must be careful not to believe that we can avoid it altogether. 

One of the most powerful things I have learned in my time at Sibley has been that there is an alternative approach to that spotlight.  You can face it head on.  Every moment I have spent in the Hub has been in some way about hearing people and making them feel heard—turning their stories into voices for action, turning solitary moments into moments of community, turning pain points into empowering ones.  It encourages the dialogue.  It needs the dialogue.  It builds the bridge that we can then walk across.  It channels the messages of Being Mortal or When Breath Becomes Air.  It provides that vital yet far less available care.        

The courage to have the conversations and to truly listen are values that I will carry forward.  I will continue to hear the Sibley voices comforting and motivating me.  I can feel the unending spirit of helping every person every time.  

As I said at the beginning, transitioning is hard.  Facing new challenges is hard.  But, I find comfort in knowing that—although things change—the people we meet, their stories, their passions, and their lessons are forever with us.  The door is always open, even if just a crack.  

Andrew Yin —

be you, be strong, be brave

part I of II: the warmth of the sunrise

As a forewarning, I am starting this post on a bittersweet note.  I couldn't figure out how to say it in the middle of a post, but, today marks two weeks before I shift away from my regular presence in the Hub.  I have many reflections to share, but they will be saved for the next post.  With that in mind, however, I decided that this and the next post should be connected by the theme of journey.  At the end of this first post, I will ask you all to share some reflections about your own journeys, and, in the second post, I will combine your reflections with some of my own.  So please, read on and definitely share your thoughts at the end!        

Over the past few weeks, the Hub has been in somewhat of a continuous sprint.  Projects have been moving to exciting places, many team members have been traveling to study innovation in other healthcare environments (shout out to our new friends in NYC, OH, DC, and more!), and the Hub continues transitioning into the summer. 

Visits to NYP-Cornell and NYP-Columbia

Visits to NYP-Cornell and NYP-Columbia

I think every team has these kinds of overly busy moments—maybe because of coinciding deadlines, need for more staff, or just a natural break in team rhythm.  Whatever the reason, these moments are frustrating and hard, and it is within them that we are most likely to be upset and impatient—not just with our work but with each other. 

I felt like we were in that kind of moment two weeks ago.  All of the sprinting caught up with us.  Time sped up, we felt overwhelmed, and we felt disjointed.  It was a bit tense.  Luckily, we recognized the importance of taking a collective breath.  We took a moment to put the journey in perspective.  We came together to slow things back down.

The team convened and began reflecting aloud: why the Hub?  Why healthcare?  Why now?  We each had a chance to share our thoughts.  I enjoyed listening to the answers of my colleagues.  Although we spend a lot of time together, it is not a common topic, and I had never thought of asking.  Now, I am very thankful that we shared this moment, because I was absolutely inspired. Here are some of the things I heard:

-the work in the Hub is about people, about hearing their voices, and about making them better by connecting with them.  I love people and anything that helps make them better is something worthwhile.

-the Hub allows me to be me.  It is a place that I don’t feel like I have to put on some façade and be someone else when I come into work.  The person I am at home is the person that gets to come here each day.  

-health and hospitals hit close to home right now because I have family who have been recently or are still ill.  To feel like I can be doing anything to help right now, it means a lot.

-I have used design thinking in many places, and it never occurred to me how well it fit for healthcare.  The process of having to come and stay at a hospital is packed with so many powerful experiences.  Working here feels more meaningful than any work I have done.      

-I love interviewing people and hearing their stories.  The Hub gives me the ability to not only do that everyday but also use those stories to fuel new ideas, and I love it. 

-the constant push for action and the willingness to try new things is something that I have never encountered before in healthcare, and it is inspiring to see in action here—it is all about making things better for people.

My teammates said things I did not expect, shared pains that I had not heard before, and revealed such a wide range of motivations and experiences.  I felt refreshed from the recent sprint of our work and a sudden renewed energy rooted in my connection with my teammates.  It reminded me that, although we each have our own reasons for being here, we are on the same journey.

Journey implies that there is a beginning, middle, and end.  It connotes adventure, hardship, and unknown.  What it doesn't relay is an amount of time—a journey can be one day, one year, one hour.  A journey can be all things that have a start and finish with something interesting in the middle.  That moment as a team was a journey we embarked on together.  The past month of sprinting together has been a journey.  The next day together will be a journey.  We all have unique motivations, but together we will share the journey.    

Before I ramble on for too long (I surely have a habit of rambling on this "cyber soapbox", as Matt Brown called it), I really want to hear about your journeys.  Whether you are at Sibley, in the DC area, or someone who has stumbled across this blog some other way, please click on the link below and share your reflections.  You can write a sentence or a paragraph, whatever you feel inspired to do.  Think about: why are you where you are now?  What inspires you each day?  Why this work?  Why Sibley?  

Please, click HERE to share, or, if you prefer, email me your reflections at

I look forward to reading your reflections, and be on the look out two weeks from now for part II!  

Andrew Yin

finding a happy medium

I’m nervous this time around.  Who knew so many people read this—people you may not expect. After the last time I yapped on here, some older fella I've never seen before yelled at me "I read your blog!" as the elevator door closed.  Never found out what he thought of it, but I'm telling myself he loved it.  I’m attempting to fill some pretty big shoes writing here today. Your regularly scheduled bloggers, and soon-to-be doctors, Andrew Yin and occasionally Jess Dawson, have been writing powerful, insightful, and inspiring posts for a while now.  Thanks so much for those you two.   They’re both headed off to med school; Jess has just gone and we have Andrew for a few more weeks. Sad to see them leave Sibley, but excited for the physicians they’ll **crosses fingers** come back to us as.  

My first blog post here almost a year ago was part Fat Head poster (that’s a Rob Jewell joke) and part introducing my new role as Geriatric Nurse Navigator in the NICHE (Nurses Improving the Care of Health System Elders) department. Something exciting in NICHE this past year is a Hub related update/shameless plug.  Suzanne Dutton, my boss and your NICHE Coordinator and I used to design thinking to come up with some ways to significantly impact patient experience scores for older patients on our target unit.   You can read our poster presentation of the results shown here. 

Another plug is that we are hosting a really cool community event next month, focused on making Sibley the most accepting hospital in the DMV, but enough about NICHE.  Over the past year, some things have changed and some have stayed the same.

Sibley is still awesome.

We all still do great work.

The Hub is still facilitating the development of the good ideas our staff are churning out.

That's not supposed to read like some ra-ra sports halftime speech, partially because that third bullet is long and nerdy-sounding, but more because it’s way bigger than sports.  Sometimes it's hard in a job that you enjoy (which I think most people here do), when you’re doing it so well, to look up and recognize the work that other people are doing. That’s one of the many reasons I quickly fell into working with the Hub. They see the tough work that everybody else is doing and genuinely just want to improve it. Make it easier. Make it better for the patient. Focusing on the end-user and not an end product means you don't go in with an idea of what will fix the problem. You go in with an idea of who has the problem and the question of how can you help them. So, whether it's a nursing issue, a communication issue, or a technology issue it is WHO is experiencing this issue that design thinking focuses on in solving the problem.  Design thinking focuses on the people, which are always the best part, and it’s their feedback that drives design. 

The last time I jumped on this cyber soapbox I went on about coming to the Hub and giving feedback. I recognize a lot of people reading this may not always have time to scoot down to the Hub, or find out what they're working on, but the Hub team recognizes this and makes a big effort to come to you and our patients. So my ‘ask’ this time is just to keep on contributing to great care in whatever your role is and to welcome those that may ask for your opinion to help others do the same. Give them honest feedback on the prototypes but also on the process of getting feedback from patients.  The Hub team will always respect that the flow of units can be complex, and because of that they sometimes they need a nudge in the right direction.  They are trying to make healthcare better for everyone involved, and they need yours and patients’ voices to do that. 

To end with a little story, I had a special moment two weeks ago with Miss Filler (if you don’t know her then SHAME) getting feedback about a new prototype.  That’s right, Miss Filler.  The best of the best—cap and all—took a few minutes to give feedback on a really cool prototype aiming to give patients control over their room while empowering them to use the call button (but that’s for another blog post).  I’m not saying she’s leading her own design sprint next week or anything, but Miss Filler took a few minutes to give feedback.  It made my month. This was big to me having worked 8 years for her because I know exactly where she stands on patients getting quality care. She would rather staff be in a patient room than anywhere else, yet she took the time to give feedback.  It was a little thing, but getting feedback and opening the minds that go with all the caring hearts at Sibley is one of the many things that make it an exciting time to be here. 

Same as usual with a blog please leave some feedback (email me at, or yell it at me on an elevator, either way, thanks for reading and for all you do for Sibley.


Matt Brown

How do you feel?

Happy National Nurses Week!  Thank you to all the amazing nurses who have helped the Hub on the floors and in the Hub.      

The Hub spends a lot of time exploring.  Depending on where you are in the hospital, you have probably seen members of the Hub roaming around doing interviews, observing what’s going on, or showing people some strange looking prototype.  It is likely that we have even asked you at some point for advice, information, or an interview.  We definitely ask a lot of questions and talk to a lot of people, and, as any Hubster might tell you, the reason for many of these explorations is to empathize with users to learn about their experience—a key to the design thinking process.  We need to hear, see, breath, feel, and live the life of the user to the best of our ability in order to make sure that our design matches their needs. 

As someone in the Hub and even before my time here, I feel that the word empathy is used quite a bit.  It has surely become a bit of a buzzword similar to how innovation and patient-centered are used in so many contexts.  Because of this, it can be difficult to decipher what these somewhat vague and abstract words actually mean.  One of the concepts most commonly mixed up with empathy is sympathy, and differentiating between the two can be hard.  It is important, however, because the projects that come out of design thinking and the Hub are fueled specifically by empathy instead of sympathy. 

Empathy and sympathy both involve listening and processing another person’s situation—the nuance comes in how they involve feeling.  Sympathy is when you feel for someone.  Empathy is when you feel with someone.  Sympathy is hearing someone’s situation and feeling good for them, bad for them, pitying them, relieved for them, etc.  Empathy is joining them in that moment.  It is having the same joy, sadness, fear, or anxiety of the other person.  Empathy is not judging or interpreting or trying to problem solve right away.  It is just being with that person in that moment.            

You can also watch this video by clicking here.

In our design work in the Hub, it is important that we take the time to feel with our end-users and not just feel for them.  Spending this time allows for us to more accurately think of ways to address their needs, because we focus on carrying those same pains and work to directly address them.  Conversely, feeling for the user leads to coming up mostly with ideas that we think are interesting, and we quickly fall into the trap of assuming that our users will think they are too.  Resisting interpreting or processing feelings is one of the hardest things to do.  We are so used to serving others by trying to immediately provide them with something—an answer, a plan, a service—that simply listening can feel uncomfortable. 

In a place like a hospital where we see people at their most vulnerable and can listen to full and rich life stories every day, the opportunity to practice using empathy is all too prevalent, but there is a reason that emotional and empathy fatigue exists.  Empathy demands energy and restraint.  It is an added emotional burden—one that we are not always prepared to carry.  

Know though, that we can share.  We have each other.  We can carry the burden together.  In the Hub, it is part of our work to share the moments and emotions—they are vital to our ability to design and create as one group.  Together, we share the joys and stresses and cultivate that resulting energy for action.  So, although things can sometimes be overwhelming wherever we are in the hospital, remember that there are always people that are ready to feel with you—we all share that responsibility.   

Andrew Yin

Happy Friday!  

Please email me at to share your feedback, experiences, feelings, comments, or ideas.  If you have an opportunity or challenge you would like to chat with the Hub about, submit it by clicking here!


Appreciating Why

As the Hub continues to build towards a culture of design, we have created a process by which anyone in the community can document and submit an opportunity or challenge that they see and would like to work on.  We know that taking the first steps on projects can be hard, so we want to be a resource that can help anyone take those first steps and be able to champion their own project!  So, if you have an opportunity or challenge you feel could use another pair of eyes, feel free to share it by clicking here!


Why did you get out of bed this morning?  Because you have to?  Because you always do at that time?  Because duty calls?  Because you have too much to do to just sit and “do nothing?”  How late were you up last night?  How early are you up this morning? 

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Many times we reflect on how it is that we do things—well, poorly, differently, efficiently, etc.  Sometimes we need to spend some time thinking about why we do things.  What drives us?  What gets us out of bed in the morning and what keeps us responding to work emails at some crazy late hour in the evening?  How can we recognize and appreciate those things about ourselves?

I have sometimes thought about what would happen if for one day, everyone in the world just took the day off.  It would probably be a struggle, even though it seems like a nice idea.  Alas, we do leave the comfy confines of our beds.  Additionally, we almost always have some list of tasks to do, we have our daily routines, and do our best to "have a good day".  Things don’t always go to plan—we procrastinate, we learn of extra steps involved, we have to face some adversity—yet we find a way to get them done.   We have some continual motivation to do.

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What is it?  When is the last time you tried to remind yourself or figure it out?  With the constant hustle of the every day going from meeting to meeting, speaking with patient after patient, or just going through the same routine over and over, it is easy to stop thinking about the why.  It is easy to get stuck thinking about what needs to be done instead of remembering why we do it.  So, what is the importance of asking why?

Because it forces us to name those motivations that make us do what we do—whether we are motivated by helping people, supporting our family, making an impact, learning, growing, find a purpose, or just being.  Physically naming them allows us to appreciate them.  We can recognize that it is these things that are worth sacrificing our time, sleep, comfort, relaxation, etc.  Take a moment to recognize that you are willing to make that sacrifice, even when nobody is watching.  Appreciate yourself for making that sacrifice.  Realize that those motivations are a part of you.  They say something about you.  Even though you are sometimes alone in recognizing these motivations, they still matter.  


Thinking about motivations is another reason that I really enjoy design thinking.  It is all too easy to settle for the superficial answer to a question—to just ask the superficial question without digging deeper.  It is easy to give a user an iPad as a prototype and ask “what do you think?”  The user might say “I like it, this is very cool.”  Without asking the next question, one might walk away and report that the user likes iPads, so we should get iPads.  You may find, however, that if you had asked the next question that the reason the user likedthe iPad is that it was small and light and presented information clearly.  They may not say anything about the technology itself.  Perhaps a simple little notebook would address the need?  

It can be hard to dive deeper.  Sometimes users have never thought about the why, so we have to ask the question in many different ways or just allow for time to process.  We can spend a lot of time trying to identify the motivations behind the “likes” or “dislikes” something.  Finding them, however, is critical.  The underlying motivations fuel our projects and our designs.  Thankfully, these motivations fuel us all everyday!

Andrew Yin

Please email me at to share your feedback, experiences, feelings, comments, or ideas.  Also, send an email if you want to join our feedback team and are willing to be interviewed for our future projects!  If you have an opportunity or challenge you would like to chat with the Hub about, submit it by clicking here!







Vulnerable Times Call for Vulnerable Measures

The big Hub announcement this week is that Joe, a Hub leader, our in-house coffee connoisseur, and generally talented extraordinaire will be leaving his full time role in the Hub at the end of this week.  Please come to the Hub to celebrate his work and his awesomeness today at 4pm, we really are going to miss him!  Today and tomorrow, we also have Doug Solomon in the Hub doing Design Team training!

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about what Joe's departure means for the Hub.  Joe has been here since the Hub first began, and his departure makes me curious to understand why the Hub team lives and breathes the way it does.  What makes the Hub tick?  What allows us to be quirky, random, empathetic, collaborative, and sometimes useful and productive (I hope!)?  I don't think I can talk coherently about intricate team dynamics in a short blog post, but I have started to think separately about one reason that seems to hit pretty close to home—vulnerability.

But what is that?  I don’t think that I have much of an answer, which is why I was happy to stumble across a TedTalk that could shine a little light on the matter.  Brené Brown roots her exploration of vulnerability in connection—explaining how connection is the first and foremost way that we find meaning in our lives.  We strive to find connections with people or concepts in order to find some greater meaning, in order to do something bigger than ourselves.  But, there is something that stands in the way—vulnerability.  What does that mean?  It is a fear of judgment, of tough decisions, of daunting issues.  It is also that nagging voice in our heads saying “I am not smart/attractive/experienced/etc. enough to be a part of this group”—that consistent fear that for some reason you are not worthy of some connection.  So, Brown set out to understand what it is that makes people feel worthy—what it is that allows them to face this fear.  What gives them the courage to embrace vulnerability?

In her research of people who were able to embrace vulnerability and build a strong sense of worthiness, she found two things—two simple things, but two powerful things.  Two things that I think are important to read slowly and deliberately (so please read slowly).  First, these people embraced authenticity—“they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were”.  Second, “they believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn't talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating…they just talked about it being necessary.”

While writing these quotes, I find myself unable to stop reading them (that’s my plug to have you read them again).  To me, the impact is not simply that she relays these findings so eloquently, it is that these are her findings after 6 years of research and listening to people—they are not a dream for the future but a reflection of part of the present.  That means we can find it.  That means we can connect with it.  That means we can really do it.  

To watch the whole ted talk, click here!

How does this tie back to the Hub?  Well, I would comfortably say that the Hub can be a strange group.  Many people may have heard of or done the stoke circles exercise at some point to inspire creativity—“stoke exercises” are pretty much synonymous with icebreakers, team builders, etc.—, but the circles exercise is just the tamest of the stokes that we do.  We do others that involve lots of movement, role-playing, and things where we undoubtedly have to be comfortable feeling a bit awkward and embarrassed in front of the team.  

For example, have you ever made random noises with your team?  Have you ever played the role of a caveman trying to understand the modern world as explained by your team?  Well, I have had a chance to, as a part of these stokes.  On the forefront, stokes force you to be creative, but more importantly they focus on making you all feel comfortable with one another.  The stokes give you a space to be ridiculous and open.  They help you eradicate the fear of judgement or embarrassment, which opens you to thinking in many different ways.  I admit that not all stokes are for everyone, but they all find a way to break down barriers.  They don’t just make you vulnerable.  They make you embrace it—dare I say enjoy it?


To tie it back together a bit, I do want to bring this back to Joe.  He has been a huge reason why the culture within the Hub readily embraces vulnerability.  If you have ever heard him rant about coffee, movies, music, tasker, etc, he is full of both amazingly relevant and random information.  If you have ever been in a brainstorm session with him, you know that he always has some of the craziest and most inspiring ideas in the group.  He has continuously been willing to be open, listen to stories, weather tough storms, be encouraging, and be positive.  He showed me from day one that working in the Hub means being your full self and nothing less.  So, thank you Joe—for being you, for embracing vulnerability, and for setting this stage for us.  We wouldn't be where we are without you!    

 Andrew Yin

Please email to share your feedback, experiences, feelings, comments, or ideas.  Also, send an email if you want to join our feedback team and are willing to be interviewed for our future projects!

The Beginning of an ONC Adventure

Hello! My name is Jessica Dawson, and I am a project coordinator over at the Innovation Hub. You may have seen me around the hospital interviewing staff members, asking for patient feedback, and facilitating design classes. If we haven’t met, feel free to swing by the Hub and say hello!  

When I am not working in the Innovation Hub or trying to finish my bachelors at school, I intern downtown over at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The ONC is a part of the federal government within the Department of Health and Human Services focused on supporting the adoption of health information technology and the promotion of nationwide health information interoperability to improve health and care.  

The beginning of a new blog post series

This blog post will be first in a new Innovation Hub blog post series about health information technology. This series will focus on the changing landscape of health information technology and what that means for Sibley medical providers in the near future. I am excited to share some of what I learn during my time at ONC and some insights into how ONC and Sibley can work together to improve the health and wellbeing of patients. 

How it all started

As a pre-med undergraduate student, I spent well over 200 hours shadowing physicians and RNs from a variety of disciplines at Sibley and at hospitals around the country. In order to get a well-rounded perspective, one of the questions I would ask each medical provider is “what is your least favorite aspect of your job?” The answer was always a variation of “I do not like how much administrative computer work I need to do.” My follow up was always: WHY? Tell me more. Over the years, I learned about difficulties of non-interoperable data, user un-friendly interfaces, constantly evolving programs, and the sheer volume of computer work. 

Last year, I interviewed a Sibley ER physician and asked “what percentage of your daily work shift is in front of a computer?” I was shocked to hear the physician frankly explain it ranged to about 50-60% of his day! 

There is no doubt that we live in a digital age. This technological and societal shift has caused healthcare to change in a variety of ways with new legislation, new technology, and new models of care. Consumer wants, needs, and expectations are evolving. 

Despite our rapid progression into the digital age, it seems that medical information systems still have much to be desired. One of the problems that electronic health systems across America face is the lack of interoperable data. 

Suppose a patient typically goes to hospital A for medical care and then needs to go to hospital B for care. It is very time-consuming and challenging to share medical information between providers due to differences in electronic health systems and a lack of standardized data delivery. The ability to easily share patient data between providers has potential benefits such as a reduction in repeated tests and diagnostic errors from incomplete histories. 

 The task to create health data interoperability is no easy feat. Stakeholders such as hospital systems like SIbley, electronic health record software publishers, health IT non-profits, and federal agencies such as the ONC are coming together to create solutions. In the coming months, I will go in-depth into the challenges in the health information technology industry, how the ONC is working to encourage solutions such as an industry standard of data sharing, and most importantly why this is so relevant for Sibley employees! 

I welcome you to join me on my adventure at the federal government! Look out for next week’s blog post! 

Thank you for reading! 
Jessica Dawson


Have you ever wondered what "prototype" means?  I have.  Increasingly so.  It is one of those words that the Hub uses a lot, and, the more I hear it, the more interested I become to find out what it means to others and how our understandings differ.  I feel that some similar words—beta, pilot, mock-up, template, framework, sample, example—get used somewhat interchangeably.  These words swirl in and out of our Hub conversations, and I increasingly realize that I mix them all into one big cloud related to the idea of “prototyping”.

Having worked with people with very little design experience as well as those who are design veterans, I feel that people’s understandings of prototyping varies quite a bit.  It really depends on which similar word one quickly associates with "prototype".  On one end of the spectrum (let’s say the “mock-up” end), a prototype is not functional and is only a shell of the idea—as simple as an “app” drawn out on a piece of paper.  On the other end (the “beta” end), it is an “app” that we are already using with only minor adjustments occurring—like Google and Apple pretty much always have their software in the “beta” version.  Neither of these interpretations is wrong, but they are significantly different.  One is a lot of work away from being implementable, while the other is already functional with only small adjustments remaining—yet both could be easily classified as “prototypes”.          

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Varying interpretations are good, but I wonder how this affects our teams entering the prototyping step of the design thinking process.  Based on one’s interpretation, expectations for the prototype could vary widely.  In one case, one has to be “creative” enough to make a quick and easy version—knowing that it will get a lot of criticism and may not meaningfully deliver right away.  In another, one thinks the prototype needs to basically be a completed product.  Both scenarios can be quite intimidating.  So how does one approach it?

To give a long winded answer… As I have spent time in the Hub, I think that we use the word “prototype” to mean anything that represents our interpretation of a solution.  I think the key feature is that we are showing something to the end-user, as opposed to asking the end-user to share their general experiences with us.  We are bringing our idea to them.  Thus, in my mind, the first prototype should just be enough that I can get my idea across—it should take almost no time at all to create.  From there, continued iterations of the prototype will start to reflect the increasing depth of conversations with end-users.  The more things sound right, the further the prototype will naturally build from the rough mock-up, to the pilot, to the beta, etc.  So to answer the question above, the prototype should begin at that earliest of levels, just a representation of the idea.  In some cases, building it to beta will be quick and easy, but in others it will take longer.  Either way, start with that quick and easy version—it will save you a lot of effort.        

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Prototyping may be the hardest step of the design process.  Part of that may be attributed to a fear of the perceived scope of this step—again the blurred lines between a mock-up vs. a framework, an example vs. a pilot, a beta vs. a template, etc.  Another part could be attributed to the fear of putting ones own ideas out there instead of just being a listener.  I try (still working on it) to see it a third way. 

I try to view prototyping as the point where I can finally join the end-user in a conversation addressing their challenge, as opposed to simply listening.  Their role in the conversation is to continue to guide my ideas down the right path, while mine is to continue translating their guidance into potential solutions.  Whether they know it or not, the end-user lives with the challenge everyday, and prototyping is where we can finally sit down and say “let’s start to solve this together”.


Andrew Yin

Please email to share your feedback, experiences, feelings, comments, or ideas.  Also, send an email if you want to join our feedback team and are willing to be interviewed for our future projects!

Release the Stories!

There have been some awesome things coming from the Hub recently.  First, read the latest edition of Coefficiently to learn about home automation and how it could be used at Sibley one day.  Second, you can watch this video of a presentation by sound designer Yoko to see how the hospital may be the orchestra of the future.  Thirdly, you can read the blog below.  Fourthly, you can do all of the above!  

I think one of the best things about working in a hospital and in a healthcare is the continuous relationship with people's stories.  We are interacting with many people during some of the most stressful or joyful moments in their lives, which is a powerful ingredient for storytelling.

Stories are everywhere—to me, just the simple idea of a beginning, middle, and an end describing a series of events.  We listen to them on the news, follow them in movies, read them in books, hear them from others, and tell our own everyday.  Stories have a magical element to them, too.  We can be entranced by their sound, absorbed into their words, lost amidst their emotion and suspense, transported to their worlds, and taught by their lessons.

There is one added nuance, however.  Stories only become magical when they are shared.  Until we share them with others, our stories are simply our own reality and memories.  One of the stories we sometimes share in the Hub, that I think can illustrate this, is that of a secretary who, instead of using the “conference” feature on the main phone console, used to make conference calls by taking two phones and holding them upside-down and together so the two people could talk to one another.  This realization only occurred after the designers had asked the secretary to show them how he did it, because the secretary had confidently said that he knew how to facilitate conference calls—technically he did, I guess.  Hearing stories like this, however, were the motivators for creating phone interfaces that were more readily understandable. 

Think about that secretary’s story.  To you or me, it is enlightening, slightly shocking, a bit humorous, and clearly displaying a gap in understanding.  To that secretary, however, it was simply reality—nothing more than that.  It was just how he made a conference call.  Now, this as an example is nothing special, but expand this to the many experiences that exist out there.  How many inspiring and terrifying stories have you heard from patients, family members, friends, or the larger world that seemed matter-of-fact to them but impacted you?  Inspired you?  Possibly a story of a seemingly unfazed patient who happened to be stuck on the ground at the time of your follow-up call?  Or, someone's life long battle against chronic illness?  Maybe someone's act of heroism trying to save another person?  All of these are just reality to whomever they occurred to, but they are very different once they are shared.      

In the Hub, we are in the practice of collecting, sharing, and learning from stories.  They are our fuel, fire, and inspiration.   That’s why projects like the ‘About Me’, aspects of our Room of the Future project, etc. can be so powerful, yet so simple.   Building avenues for stories opens the door for the exchange of more than just words, because even a simple, short story can be moving.  However, there is a danger to listening to just one story (click here for a TedTalk with a much more eloquent description of why), which is why we need to collect a variety of stories.  For some topics, we already have enough experience to put a story in perspective, but—when we explore new areas with which we are unfamiliar—we need a diversity of stories before we can understand the impact of that single story. 

As a final thought, don’t let the ending of a story be the end.  The most powerful stories are those that leave us feeling motivated or wanting more—they leave us itching for a sequel or wanting action.  We begin to imagine what we want to see next, what is the happy or sad ending?  What can you do to influence what happens next?  The ending becomes the beginning, which means there is a whole new story that needs to be written.  Each and every day, we have the opportunity to help write that story and make the next story even better than the last.  


Andrew Yin

Hope that everyone has a chance to enjoy this great weather, what a treat in March!

Please email to share your feedback, experiences, feelings, comments, or ideas.  Also, send an email if you want to join our feedback team and are willing to be interviewed for our future projects!

Just be.

Emotions aren’t good or bad, they just are.  A simple statement, but one that deserves a second, third, fourth, and hundredth thought and not just because it is an interesting concept to think or talk about but also because it serves as an important reminder that what is, simply is before we interpret it.  I first heard this phrase a few years ago from someone close to me, and I cherish it as one of the more powerful pieces of advice that I have ever received.  It has opened my mind to trying to, at some point during each day, just be.  To just acknowledge a moment—why it makes me feel a certain way, what that feels like, and how I can just let myself feel that briefly.  To just feel and understand that moment in an unbiased way.    

A story that reminds me about this concept and might help clarify what I am thinking occurred while I played baseball in college.  My college baseball field was smack in the center of campus—between the library and the dining hall—and was one of the busiest areas with students walking, biking, or just socializing.  One day, towards the end of a closely fought game, a Wesleyan batter, poised to win the game for us, stood waiting for his moment. 

The story goes that during that moment of total focus and concentration on the task at hand my coach approached him, put his arm around him, and just said “look at all the students walking around right now.  They don't even notice that there is a game going on.  You are about to engage in one of the most important moments of your playing career, and they don’t even know.  How about that?”    

Sometimes, the team would joke about this being some crazy and strange action from our coach, because—as players might think—he was just missing the point of the moment, like someone telling you that you should stare at the clouds while driving.  Maybe that is true, but maybe it was insight to embracing and realizing a moment.  Realizing that yes this moment is important for the baseball game and yes that it is all you want to focus on, but also that if you look 50 feet over the other way, there is someone with a completely non overlapping reality—they are just running because they are late to class.      

In the same way that we get caught up in our minds with stress, hurry, or worry, there is a beauty to taking a pause to be present in the entirety of a moment.  One would not be able to fully appreciate or embrace what made that baseball moment special unless they thought beyond their own immediate reality and focused and tried to just digest the moment as is.  There is no harm in going right back into the grind and the tunnel vision, but I think it is huge to just gain that momentary perspective every once in a while and simply acknowledge the moment without any judgement.    

One of my favorite things about design thinking is that it continuously emphasizes and works to understand the essence of people's experience—their feelings, emotions, and motivations.  “Designers” may have weird gadgets and gismos and have brainstorming sessions where we speculate out into the unknown future and challenge the realm of possibility, but, in interviewing end-users, we are just looking to find what makes people tick.  We want to let our users be themselves in the sense that we don't want them to feel like there has to be a right or wrong answer, a right or wrong feeling, or a right or wrong idea.  We are going to ask questions—what were you feeling during that experience, why did you feel that way, where do you think that feeling came from—that force someone to simply be themselves and to reflect on the raw things they experienced in a moment.  An experience isn’t right or wrong, it just is.  Emotions aren’t good or bad, they just are.  I love how design thinking emphasizes acknowledging an experience, instead of immediately interpreting it. 

Someone recently told me that we all have 30-50 thousand ideas any given day, which simply amazed me.  I would guess that has to mean that we process most if not all of them to some degree during the day.  We ignore, reject, execute, reflect, worry, stress, hope, act, procrastinate, or some variation of this on all of these ideas.  But, my new challenge is to just feel some of them.  Just let the thoughts or moments be, before executing some judgment or action.  It doesn’t have to be every one—just a few will do.  Let the experience, emotion, or thought be free before it gets put through the processor.  Just like that baseball player, try soaking in the moment.  How might we just be?

Andrew Yin

Hope everyone has a great rest of the week!  Happy almost March!

Please email to share your feedback, experiences, feelings, comments, or ideas.  Also, send an email if you want to join our feedback team and are willing to be interviewed for our future projects!

No Running by the Pool. Sprinting Only.

Last week was all about sprinting.  From start to finish, the Hub ran hard from the get-go.  The main components of the week were a 24-hour design sprint with the Rehab team down in the Renaissance building and a Hub presentation to staff of the ideas we have come up with for the Patient Centered Room.  Thank you to the 70-80 and staff who supported us on Friday by coming down to the Hub to share over 300 pieces of individual feedback!  To learn more about the Patient Centered Room and our other projects, click here.  Also, to best be able to read this blog, click here so you can easily see all of the photos!

A collage from the Hub's feedback collecting event on Friday

A collage from the Hub's feedback collecting event on Friday

Unfortunately, this blog really only has space to talk about the design sprint, more about the Patient Centered Room to come in the future!  

What is a 24-hour design sprint?

For those of you who don’t know about the Hub’s 24-hour design sprints, here is a brief introduction.  Given a challenge, the team will go through the entire design process within a 24-hour time frame—from basic research, to interviewing, to synthesizing, to brainstorming, to prototyping, and to collecting final feedback.  We condense the same process that we do over the course of weeks or months for other projects—Patient Gown, Breast Cancer Journey, Internal Communications, Patient Centered Room, etc...  By no means is it a small task to complete all the steps within 24-hours.  It requires 100% of focus, energy, and, most importantly, one’s willingness to jump in.  


This noon-to-noon sprint focused around Rehab’s locker rooms that connect to the pool in the Ren.  As soon as we figured out our interview guides, we jumped into going face to face with our end users.  We met some truly insightful and fascinating patrons of the pool that have been coming to Sibley multiple times a week for years.  We heard things like:

"The lockers are so difficult.  I just come in my suit, it's easier"

"It could be warmer, a lot warmer."

"The body is not as tough as it once was."

"I use the pool for therapy, the lockers are hard to use because they are too skinny and I can't get the lock on."

"Every time I find out I can continue coming to the pool, it is like a big weight is lifted off my shoulders.  This place has changed my life."


After these interviews, we returned to the Hub to share out what we had heard and to digest all of this information.  We synthesized ideas and concepts into related groups—the décor, social aspect, rules, privacy, accessibility, staff perspectives, desired amenities, etc.  With these themes in mind, we wanted to go out to the community to places that are masters at some of these themes.  Where else are people changing clothes?  Where are people having to use lockers?  Where do people have to feel comfortable while also feeling clean?  During that evening, the team split up—some to go visit places and some to do research online.

Left: some of our groups ideas.  Right: pictures of some of the places we researched.

Left: some of our groups ideas.  Right: pictures of some of the places we researched.

Research-Who does it best?

The following morning, we all checked back in with our new information.  Collectively, we had visited or researched yoga studios, restaurants, spas, gyms, sports locker rooms, changing rooms, and other hospital pools.  These places quickly showed us other ways in which locker rooms can emote feelings of elegance, calm, and personalization.  Other changing areas showed us that a "locker" may sometimes just be a hook for your jacket or it can be a cubby large enough for an athlete to sit in.  We discovered how hard it is to find a pool as warm and large as Sibley’s.  We heard from yoga instructors about how they hold people responsible for the space.  Importantly, all of the places displayed some nifty designs and colors patterns that changed the space from a locker room to a place that you feel dignified and relaxed. 


Having just a few hours left, we started brainstorming ideas that we wanted to prototype.  We tested moving some simple amenities like snacks and drinks into the locker room.  We surveyed people about whether big, fluffy robes would be of interest.  We collected feedback about different locker styles.  We kept the place spotless and purposefully tried to show a presence in the space.  We were vulnerable with our new ideas, and we asked to see if any of them hit home.   

When we finally checked in at the end to gather all the feedback, we realized that everything seemed to interestingly fit into two distinct categories—one focusing on the short term opportunities and the other on something for the long term.  In the short term, we definitely feel like we have a sense of what people are looking for in a clean and comfortable locker room.  From hooks to taller, wider lockers, people like to store their things in different ways.  Colors should be warm, and the floor should have larger tiles to reduce the industrial feel.  We should make it feel like there is an abundance of towels and/or robes.  There should be more surfaces for people to use while changing, not just benches to sit on.  There should be a few larger and more accessible shower and changing stalls which can accommodate family members or caregivers who may be assisting.     

Left: the team as it synthesizes ideas.  Right: our prototypes as selected through dot voting.

Left: the team as it synthesizes ideas.  Right: our prototypes as selected through dot voting.

A Bigger Picture

From these more immediate aesthetic things, we also heard a bigger story from this project.  We heard about how much this pool means to those that use it.  People use this pool not only for the much needed wellness support, but also for the friends and socializing opportunities.  People fight through snow and rain to get to these classes, because of how much they want/need them.  Passion and dedication radiated out of these pool patrons of 5 years, 8 years, or sometimes longer.       

Design sprints often end in a manner like this.  We realize that the thing we are initially designing for is really just the tip of the iceberg towards a something bigger.  In this case, we were able to learn a lot about what people wanted and needed in their locker room.  Larger than that, however, we learned about how a part of the community that we serve really thrives from having access to this very unique pool.  We saw people actually get emotional when speaking about how much it has helped improve their lives and helped them recover from injuries.  So, a possible bigger project down the road would be how to match the needs of these individuals that want more access to the pool.  That, however, is a project for another day…or maybe a few weeks.  

Andrew Yin

I hope everyone stays safe today with all of the weird weather!  Stay dry! 

Please email to share your feedback, experiences, feelings, comments, or ideas.  Also, send an email if you want to join our feedback team and are willing to be interviewed for our future projects!

The Hub's Super Bowl of Prototypes

To best view this blog post, please click here, as often in email form, the photos or text are distorted.

Also, an announcement: please come this Friday the 12th between 2:30-4:30 to give us feedback on the Patient Centered Room!  We will have some (fabulous) snacks, and we want to hear what you think of some of the recent things that we have come up with.  In the spirit of showing off prototypes, this post is about prototyping and the challenge of creating.  It has some great photos, so I really encourage you to click here to read the post so you can best see the photos!     

Left: the latest update of the Patient Centered Room with prototypes inside.   Right: our recently introduced HubKiosk, where you can come and try out some recent creations or technologies!  

Left: the latest update of the Patient Centered Room with prototypes inside.  

Right: our recently introduced HubKiosk, where you can come and try out some recent creations or technologies!  

After the blizzard, the Hub was back to normal last week.  We had a great d-team workshop with Doug Solomon, where a new group of the Sibley team learned about how they might use design thinking in their daily work.  Doug will be back again later this February to give another workshop, click here to look at or sign up for future workshop dates!  We will also be having a special event with Doug on the 25th for anyone who has gone through his workshop and would like some lunch and a chance to reflect on how they have used design thinking in their work.  Click here for that and look for the "special event"!

The concept of prototyping came up in Doug’s workshop as well.  Prototyping is really the second half of the design process.  The part where you create something—whether it is an object or new guidelines or something else—and put that thing in front of your end user. 

some prototypes from the d-team workshop

some prototypes from the d-team workshop

The creation/prototyping part of the design process marks an important turning point in the journey.  It is the point where the designers go from information collectors and processors to solution builders and makers.  More importantly, one has to shift from gathering ideas to putting your own on the line, which isn’t easy to do. 

prototype building for the gown project

prototype building for the gown project

In most of our design races or larger projects, we spend around the first 50% of the time collecting information through research and end-user interviews.  We get used to hearing complaints, compliments, and ideas.  We purposefully process these things with a “dream big” mentality and think about all of crazy and way out there possible solutions to the things we hear.  We get flooded with information, and continuously add our own ideas along the way.

Thus, it can be hard to suddenly turn from listening with such an open mind to a producing and creative mind that is willing to take risks.  Whether it consciously crosses our mind or not, I think there is a fine line between hearing all of that feedback as motivating and hearing it as an intimidating.  Sure, there are a ton of things that we can solve for, but wow, what if my one idea doesn’t solve much of anything?  I have questioned myself a few times, but the more I practice being willing and vulnerable to sharing, the easier it all seems to get. 

prototypes for the patient centered room

prototypes for the patient centered room

Recently, we have been working very intensely on prototypes for the patient centered room.  For those of you on some of the floors, you may have noticed an increased Hub presence seeking possible end-users able to test our prototypes.  Now, I must admit that I still get a bit nervous when I enter a room or speak with a staff member about an idea, but, through these conversations with end-users, I believe that I have found the beginning of a happy medium.  After having more of these conversations, I have realized how we are not just designing for the end-user.  More importantly, we are designing with them.  We are in continuous communication with them.  We are bringing our ideas forward as a response to what we heard in conversations with them.  They are sharing their reactions with us.  They are sharing some of their vulnerability with us, just as we are sharing ours with them.

This may not be a groundbreaking concept, but I feel that it is an important distinction to emphasize when it comes to prototyping.  As someone who prefers communal/collaborative projects, my whole mindset changes when I think of the design process as a very broad and long term conversation between the designer and the end user.  Both sides are working towards the same goal.  Instead of entering a room thinking about how I am presenting this to you, one can present what we came up with together—a combination of your ideas, my interpretations, and some added brainstorming.  Even better is the idea that what we actually do only progresses through our working together.  

Altogether, I think it is very important to think about both inside and outside of the Hub.  Thinking we instead of you or I has the potential to change a lot of things, as simple as it is.  That is what I loved about the blizzard, what we heard throughout the breast cancer journey project, what we can say to our teammates or family during tough times, and what we can bring to our everyday endeavors.  The power of thinking and living "we".

I started this blog with an invitation to come see recent Hub prototypes, and I want to say that our journey in the Hub is nothing without your help and feedback.  Help us all continue to move our care at Sibley to new levels by joining our prototyping session on Friday or simply coming down to try any of the things in the HubKiosk!          


Andrew Yin

Hope everyone had a great weekend and enjoyed the Super Bowl!

A Blizzard of Opportunity

What a blizzard!  Naturally, after writing about an idea snowballing into something big and inspiring two weeks ago, we were hit with none other than a full-blown blizzard spanning three days!  

Taken on the Sunday morning following the storm

Taken on the Sunday morning following the storm

Now, I honestly can’t explain everything that I got to be a part of during my stay at Sibley while the blizzard raged on in a single blog post, because what I saw—the acts of will, the moments of need, the miracles of chance—deserve more time than I can give here.  In that light, I want the first and most important message of this post to be an expression of admiration, appreciation, and respect for those who gave every ounce of themselves during the blizzard.  Thank you to my “roommates” from nutrition who also slept in the Hub for three nights, to those who slept in patient rooms all over the hospital, to those who kept their units and departments going each day and night, and to everyone who made it possible for some 200 plus staff members to become weekend residents of Sibley (I am looking your way EVS, Nutrition, and Security!)

As I said, that weekend was too much to describe all at once, so I will choose to relay two different messages—one a lighthearted retelling of a snowball fight and the other a reflection on some of the madness that was.   

I will begin by sharing the more light-hearted story—the epic (not actually that epic) snowball fight at 4pm on January 23rd, 2016.  Tempers were flaring, we had been cooped up for too long and we couldn’t take it anymore.   Alliances were fragile.  L and D allied with the ED, while Plant Ops stormed to the battlefront ready for a fight.  Rehab leadership emerged and opted to take the high road of supervising the fight for safety measures.  The wind swirled, the snow fell, and the tension couldn’t have been cut with one of those bone saws used in the OR.  Even with the snow carnage that ensued, I was able to obtain the following footage off of the body of a fallen warrior (warning-there is sound).

To quickly analyze what ensued after this video, the victors of the battle were those who quickly figured out that the snow was dry and making snowballs was near impossible.  Thus, the method of choice ended up being slinging snow with the shovels that were nearby.  Piles of snow flew through the air and landed on unsuspecting victims.  The shrill shrieks of surprise filled the silent, snowy air.

Back to a more serious note, I would like to talk about the main part of the weekend.  Something about it really resonated with my experiences in the gym.  At the gym I go to, there are many younger athletes I spend time with who are just beginning their relationship with weight-lifting related workouts.  Something wonderful about the younger athletes is how quickly they progress since they have not yet found their own limits.  In contrast, a more experienced lifter has found those upper bounds, has pushed them, and has been defeated by them.  I remember one of the first times that I pushed against my physical limits while lifting—it was back in high school and I was attempting one rep of a heavy weighted squat and, when I got to the bottom, I just couldn’t get back up.  My coach was quick to help me up, and it was over.  Finding that limit can be scary.  You push and push, you focus your mind and body completely on one seemingly simple task, yet (in lifting at least) you feel the unwavering and uncaring weight crushing you, and you feel your body give in to the losing battle. 

Taken on Saturday by the entrance to the Renaissance 

Taken on Saturday by the entrance to the Renaissance 

What I love about finding and pushing these limits is the learning opportunity.  The attempt provides clear feedback about current performance and potential.  As such, it is a challenge to improve by trying some new things—changing a routine, reanalyzing past experiences, or improving upon techniques.  Reaching a limit gives you a chance to look back and appreciate the effort, energy, and support needed to reach that point, and it forces you to look forward at how to be better the next time around. 

From staying and working all weekend, I gained a whole new appreciation for what it takes for Sibley to function on a daily basis, an understanding of the strong influence that individuals can have, and a feel for how far I can push myself.  I learned that the most fulfilling moment of my weekend was Monday morning when I drove out to Germantown and Gaithersburg at 5am to pick up staff members, that coordinating staffing is extremely challenging, and that living in the hospital for three plus days is quite the adventure (to say the least). 

The map of staff that we coordinated rides for.  People were really all over the DMV!

The map of staff that we coordinated rides for.  People were really all over the DMV!

For those of us who were here during the blizzard, I feel like many of us pushed up against our individual limits.  I feel like Sibley itself tested it limits in certain ways. For a moment, I think it is very important to appreciate the efforts, the crazy things that happened (like the linen driver heroically arriving on Saturday after a 4.5 hour drive from Baltimore), and the emotions that passed through both individuals and the whole hospital.  For the following moment, let us think about how we can learn from this maximum effort to try to improve for next time—let us ask those questions, because it is an opportunity that is too good to pass up.  

I did not know what that weekend would be like, and I never expected it to teach me as much as it did.  I met dozens of new people, I helped coordinate Monday's rides, I drove around to get staff, I kept the Hub up and running as a space for people to spend their downtime, and I felt a whole new level of inclusion in the Sibley community.  Just like one of the younger athletes at the gym, I just sprinted straight ahead for as long as possible with the guidance of those with more experience.  However, like a more seasoned athlete, I know that the toughest challenge is not necessarily standing strong while under duress but actually is having the unending desire to learn from every moment and experience.    

As such, the Hub has been openly collecting ideas and reflections, so please click here to add your own thoughts to the pile!  Also, feel free to come to the Hub and find me or email if you have any other thoughts or feedback about anything else.


Andrew Yin

Thanks again for everyone's commitment and hard work.  It was a weekend that I will never forget. 

Mr. Rogers on prototyping

Remember arts and crafts time as a kid? Our parents and teachers didn't care if we ended up with a ball of glue and string, somehow it was still the most amazing thing they'd ever seen. And we didn't care either. Just getting to play and make something was half the fun. 

Unfortunately, as we get older many of use lose that fearless ability to dive into a box of pipe cleaners and construction paper and in search of the next great rocket ship or sail boat. 

One of our favorite parts of designing something new in the Hub is prototyping. You've probably heard us say funny things like make to think and the faster you move your hands, the sooner you find out what works. That's because we love trying to make an idea come to life, even if we end up with a glue ball. 

Lately, we've been thinking a lot about prototyping. The patient gown team is in the midst of rethinking how gowns might close and what kinds of pockets and features they have. That means some folks are picking up a needle and thread for the first time in years; maybe the first time ever. Meanwhile, some of us Hubsters have been working on some models for a new medical devices. We've been teaching ourselves 3D modeling through trial and error. There's a team at Sibley working on our new Mission statement and some other teams prototyping ideas that came out of the Snowzilla snowstorm. Regardless of what we're building, there's often a common theme when it comes to prototyping: the fear of failure

We've all felt a little scared when doing something new. Remember the first time you cooked dinner for someone? What about riding a bike or learning to play a musical instrument? A lot of us feel those same feelings when it comes to drawing an idea, or making a model of it. But here's the twist - the sooner we start trying, the sooner we overcome our fears. And the sooner we start trying, the sooner we get excited about what works. It turns out, we're all wired to enjoy making something new, even if it's a stick figure on a post-it note. 

Prototyping is so important because it helps us and others start to see what our ideas look and feel like. Prototypes give us a chance to get feedback before something is finalized. And best of all, making a prototype of an idea just feels good; it feels like we're accomplishing something. 

 So, this week, if you're feeling a bit scared to take the first step on an idea, take a look at this slide show from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Fred Rogers had a gift for inspiring kids to be creative and confident and proud of making things. Let's all tap in to that creativity and see what we can make!

The slide show below is from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood you can find information on the specific episode here—if you're reading this in your email, you may want to visit the Sibley Hub Blog to see the slideshow. 

The Search for Feedback

Welcome to this special Friday edition of our blog post. We wish you all safety and warmth in the upcoming winter weather!

My name is Jessica Dawson, and I am a project coordinator at the Innovation Hub. A couple of months ago, I was given the task to informally survey Sibley employees to understand their perceptions regarding the Innovation Hub and design thinking. I am excited to share the story of the survey and the data we collected in this blog post*.

*Please note that some of the pictures in this post will not readily load correctly via email. Instead, click here to view the blog post on our website to see the accompanying pictures as well. 

It was late October of 2015 when my colleagues asked me to create a Heat Map of the hospital about employee knowledge about the Innovation Hub and staff participation in the Hub’s design thinking classes. Departments with a few members who knew about the Innovation Hub or rarely interacted with the Hub were considered cold and departments with high engagement and participation were considered hot. The goal of the Heat Map was to learn where in the hospital we should target to disseminate information about the Innovation Hub and design thinking. The Hub was almost a year and a half old, so we wanted to see how well our messages about ‘what we do’ have spread throughout the hospital.

I realized that the best way to create a Heat Map would be to interview staff members and compare responses across departments. I initially created a 30 second survey that I took up to the floors and departments. I even interviewed some employees during their elevator rides! The surveys asked questions such as if a person had attended a design thinking class, what were limitations holding back a person from taking a design thinking class, if they were interested in taking a design thinking class, their role, and their JHED ID. It was a simple and to-the-point survey. I recognized that I was surveying some very busy people, and I wanted to be respectful of their time.

After 60 or so surveys, I felt that the on the floor method was too time-consuming and not too effective. So, I realized that I needed to look at other tactics for gaining employee feedback. The data that we were receiving from my initial survey provided critical insight about awareness of the work the Hub has been doing and the interest of employees in design thinking classes. After evaluating the value of the survey, the Hub team realized that it was worth giving an incentive. We decided on cupcakes!

Because the Hub was offering a delicious incentive, I decided to lengthen the survey to gain a little more valuable feedback from the staff.

The revamped cupcake survey had the following questions added:

  • Do you know what the Innovation Hub is?
  • Do you know what design thinking is?
  • How do you feel about the Hub from a scale of 1 to 5? (1 Do Away with the Hub and 5 being the Hub is awesome)
  • What do you think the Innovation Hub is doing throughout the hospital and community?

I was hoping that by providing a cupcake incentive, employees would come to me and more surveys would be administered within a shorter period of time. By conducting a survey in the high-traffic cafeteria, I wanted to gain a data sample from a variety of people from different departments and roles.  With the help of the Hub team, we conducted Heat map surveys on a Monday lunch period in the cafeteria right before thanksgiving. The cupcakes were a hit, and we conducted 113 surveys in the span of 3 hours!

In total, the Hub team surveyed 177 people. We decided that our sample of 177 was enough because the respondents mirrored the larger hospital make-up based on employment-type, supervisory executive, and supervisory department. This data is extremely useful and exciting in determining how different departments and staff members feel about the Innovation Hub and their interest in the design classes we offer.  

One of the main goals of the Innovation Hub at Sibley is develop a culture of design. The Hub hopes that by teaching design thinking to hospital employees through design thinking classes, executive run design projects, and other department-partnered programs, staff members will feel empowered to utilize design thinking on their own throughout the hospital. The Hub team is here to coach, support, and teach staff members how to use human-centered design.

 In order to gauge how many staff members are aware of design thinking, we asked if people during the cupcake round of surveys if they knew about design thinking.  41% said yes and 59% said that they do not know what design thinking is. 

Additionally, the Hub team asked all survey respondents about the limitations holding them back from taking a design thinking class. The overwhelming response, 65%, was “not enough time;” 19% referred to “patient load,” 7% to “scheduling,” and 9% replied with “no limitation.”

What we learned from this data is that not having enough time is a hospital-wide problem. Something to think about is How Might We change the perceptions of the time barrier to allow employees to engage with the Innovation team and design thinking.

In order to hear about staff perceptions in their own words, I asked an open-ended question: What do you think the Innovation Hub is doing throughout the hospital and the community?

From a word cloud perspective, we can see the frequency of certain words in staff responses. Words such as improve, innovative, hospital, ideas, processes, patient, problem appeared most often. 

The responses could be categorized into four quote themes:

  • “improves processes and efficiency”
  • “innovation patient care, flow, and safety”
  • “place to listen to lectures”
  • “I don’t know”

These responses were especially interesting because of how they differ from the Hub team’s goals and vision. The Hub team plans to look at How Might We better disseminate our message of the projects and successes of the Innovation Hub.

After conducting the survey and sorting through all the data, my supervisors asked me to present the information in front of the Executive Team. I was both excited and nervous to share my work. One Friday afternoon, my esteemed colleagues, Nick and Joe, ‘helped’ me practice for the upcoming presentation. Their idea of public speaking ‘help’ was to softly throw sharpies at me whenever I said “um” or “uh.” Sometimes, I would good-naturedly throw the sharpies right back at them. It was a fun afternoon that really helped me improve my public speaking! The presentation with the executives went really well, and there was unanimous agreement to start presenting the data next to department heads. 

Nick and Joe get ready to throw some sharpies!

Nick and Joe get ready to throw some sharpies!

I want to say thank you to all the people who participated in the surveys. I enjoyed meeting you all during the surveys and hearing your honest feedback. The Hub team truly appreciates your input and your time. If you are interested in seeing the complete presentation, stop by the Hub! Please continue to provide feedback! We would love to hear from you.

Interested in leaving your own feedback? Take the “cupcake data” survey by clicking here!  


Thank you for reading! Stop by the Hub and say hi!
Jessica Dawson