Todd Dunn: Design For People

If you read, listen, or watch anything this week I believe it needs to be this brief 17 minute video. In it Todd Dunn, Chief of Innovation at Intermountain Health, talks about his quest in Design For People.

It personally resonated with me.

I have spent the majority of my career in designing spaces for health and care around the world to deliver care at the N of 1.

Todd is masterful in his articulation, his example, and the personal story he shares on why context is king for design in healthcare.

In order for us to “Design For People” we need to move out of our context and place ourselves in the context of where the health and care is provided between a person as a patient and a caregiver.

Todd also beautifully articulates the 2 fundamental tools for effective empathetic observation and begins with this quote:

I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization ~Roger Ebert

The 2 tools needed are:

  1. Empathy: the emotional and social understanding of how people feel and want to feel
  2. Curiosity: the child like freedom to look, study, learn, listen, and ask questions to understand

There are even more wonderful tidbits from this video.

In all of my travels and all of my conversations, the one thing that is the common thread in all of health and care is that the people we care for want our empathy.

I want to thank Todd for his great work, his great insights, and for sharing this with me and allowing me to share it with the world.

Todd and I believe that empathy with design enables us to care at the N of 1.

As always you can feel free to email me at or follow me on Twitter @cancergeek


We To Me Care


On September 27th I had the privilege of being asked to participate in a panel discussion at the 2016 Wisconsin BioHealth Forward Summit presented by BioForward Wisconsin in Madison, WI.

The panel discussion topic that I participated in was entitled: Cancer Moonshot To Clinical Trials: Breakthrough Approaches In The Fight Against Cancer.

I had the privilege of being joined onstage by Dr. Umberto Tachinardi, Chief Information Officer for UW Health Carbone Cancer Center and Chorom Pak, the President and Founder of Lynx Bio. (Click here for program information here:)

One of the topics that came out of our panel discussion was the use of “Big Data” to help to drive “Precision Medicine” and improved targeted outcomes for patients diagnosed with cancer. One of the phrases I introduced during the sessions was…..

The transition of healthcare from a world of following the 80-20 rule to a new world of “We To Me” (#We2Me) care.

It happened to be a term that resonated with my colleagues on the panel.

My simple premise is that historically healthcare has been about using information, research, and data to generate “rules,” templates, protocols, clinical workflows, and guidelines that deliver quality and consistent care to the general population.

Our medical and scientific mind has been to collect all of the information on a stated hypothesis in order to make a conclusion on the efficacy, re-producibility, safety, and overall impact to the population in question.

As I borrow from Lord of the Rings, our industrial mindset has been one pill or one treatment to cure them all.

From a maturity perspective this is a good thing. We want to impact as many lives as we possibly can and make sure it is safe and we can administer to many.

The days of not being able to collect information, or taking a long time to collect the needed information as well as analyzing the information in order to understand the medications, the prescriptions, the imaging, or the right combination of treatment that will have the best outcomes for patients is becoming ever faster.

Today we live in a time in which healthcare is “good” at following processes, guidelines, and rules to generate satisfactory results for the general public. Perhaps the 80% of people that walk through the front door of our clinics and hospitals. (generalization)

Yet there is still the 20% (again, another generalization) that our medical guidelines simply do not work, or are not as effective, or come with significant side effects.

As an example, there used to be a day in which all patients diagnosed with NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer) did not have a good prognosis. Mean life expectancy was around 6 months. Our ability to treat and offer long term survival was limited.

Today we know that NSCLC has many variants with genetic mutations such as AKT1, EGFR, ALK, BRAF, HER2, KRAS, and many other variants. We know that based the above mutations that clinicians can offer different therapies that are targeted at these specific mutations to deliver better outcomes and longer survival for patients.

That is the promise of what technology may enable for all of us.

Technology offers the promise to collect and analyze more information about me, which will then allow physicians and clinicians to offer us (you and me) more personalized medicine specific to us at that very moment in time.

It is widely known that the zip code in which one lives determines the majority of health, access, and the medical care she/he receives.

What tomorrow offers you/me is a world in which the 5% of what healthcare collects about us is combined with the other 95% of what occurs as we live in our communities.

A world in which advances are made based on the individual and benefits the broad population.

We begin to deliver care that is based on you. Care that is specific to me. Care that is delivered at the N of 1.

We move from a world of “we care” to “me care”.

This is the promise that all of us seek.

That healthcare understands me. That medicine cares for me. That my treatment and my options are specific to my needs. They are based on my own expectations and are tailored to where I live as well as my genome and how I live my life.

We are in the midst of a transition from #We2Me care.

Health and care is delivered at the N of 1.

As always you can feel free to email me at or follow me on Twitter @cancergeek


I would also like to thank Lisa Johnson of BioForward (@BioForward) for allowing me the privilege of being able to participate on the panel and to help her wonderful organization.