The Keystone Program

The Keystone Program

Featured at the Institute for Public Health National Council Meeting, 2014

In the Fall of 2013, I had the chance to participate in a cross-disciplinary interaction design workshop focusing on improving healthcare by utilizing human-centered design methods. Our class was assigned a problem by Barnes Jewish Christian Healthcare, a St. Louis healthcare company. We worked in teams of 3 to research, brainstorm, develop, and pitch a possible solution to the hospital network. Our mentor, Doug Powell, pushed us to genuinely understand and empathize with our user in order to create the most effective solution.  

The Problem

BJC Healthcare patients struggle finding safe, reliable transportation to and from the hospital. 

User Research

In order to truly understand the struggles of our user, we interviewed two BJC patients who often had trouble getting to the hospital for their scheduled appointments. We made sure to ask open-ended questions and encourage storytelling from our interviewees to get an accurate, detailed user perspective.  

Excell is an elderly patient recovering from a serious illness. He depends on his BJC-assigned social worker to schedule his weekly appointments as well as his transportation. Excell’s insurance covers vouchers for cabs to and from the hospital, but his social worker must coordinate everything: calling the cab, scheduling the cab, etc. This system proves inefficient and frustrating for both social worker and patient. Excell would like to utilize public transportation to get to his appointments, but does not know how. 


Ruth must travel to the hospital on a weekly basis. Because of her various health conditions, she relies on her electric scooter (or her “Cadillac”, as she calls it) to travel from place to place. When traveling farther from her home, Ruth relies on the Metro Transit system to take her all around the city. Although she knows the routes by heart and rides public transportation almost everyday, she never feels safe on the metro. She worries about her chair getting stolen, leaving her stranded.

Using these first-hand accounts as data, we mapped each user’s transportation experience in terms of actions, emotions, needs, and problems.

Common Themes

After reflecting on our research, we determined one common theme among struggling patients is isolation. Those without reliable transport often lack family support or a social network. 


Utilizing our research findings as a jumping off point, our team did multiple rounds of individual and collaborative brainstorming. We stressed quantity over quality, making sure even the most absurd ideas made an impact on our ideation process.  


The workshop format challenged us to consistantly pitch our ideas, allowing for immediate feedback from our classmates and the BJC Innovation Team. In order to flesh out our best idea, we chose to storyboard our future patient experience. This led to our end concept, The Keystone Program. 

The Keystone Program is a series of educational classes for patients of the BJC Hospital Network. Watch the video below to learn more!


After finalizing our concept, we identified the benefits of the Keystone Program to our main stakeholder, BJC Healthcare.

Improves patient health—Older adults who have a strong social network are often physically and mentally healthier than those who are isolated. If we can foster this social component within the hospital community, it could not only help solve this transportation issue, but lead to less hospital visits and healthier patients.

Requires little funding and will become self-sustainable—Once the program becomes established in the community, individuals who have completed the class can become peer educators to new members. Utilizing peer educators has been proven successful because students find them more relatable and easier to approach. Educators often show more empathy to their students since they have been in a similar situation.

Enhances human-to-human interactions in healthcare—While some of the solutions we initially developed involved technology, we thought that physically bringing people together to form human relationships could be a more powerful form of support. The Keystone Program would continue BJC’s emphasis on the human aspect of healthcare.

Creates a peer-to-peer network for patients—By creating a positive social community, isolated patients can feel supported, included, and do the same for their peers.  

Empowers patients beyond their transportation needs—By giving these patients the tools to accomplish a previously impossible task, The Keystone Program would instill confidence and give patients independence from their health or economic situation. 


Our team gave a 10 minute presentation to the BJC Innovation Team,  BJC administrators and health practitioners, faculty, and students. 


Big thanks to everyone who made this project possible: Doug Powell, Abram Seimsen, James Macanufo, Maggie Breslin, Gabi Brink, Joe Meersman, Heather Corcoran, and the BJC Innovation Team.