Just a moment...

Reflecting on my time at

From 2020–2022, I was responsible for leading the UX design of a suite of enterprise B2B applications at M*Modal, a cloud-based healthcare technology provider which was acquired by 3M in 2019.

If you have a password that was provided to you, you may check out
the case study.
M*Modal widget that appears when doctor starts typing up a doctors note

Understanding the problem space

At M*Modal, I led the UX design vision for two products, HCC Collaborate and CDI Collaborate. These products assist Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI) specialists in improving the documentation medical conditions using AI technology.

When a doctor types something into patient record, a dialog appears in the corner of the screen to give them insights on what they should be documenting, facilitating prompt and accurate capture of diagnoses.

Being new to this field, I initially grappled with understanding the intricate clinical documentation concepts and terminology. However, by engaging directly with CDI specialists working in hospital systems and and leveraging insights from experienced colleagues, I rapidly immersed myself in this domain. This experience allowed me to advocate effectively for the needs of these specialists, who often work 'behind the scenes,' without having formal medical training myself.
Think Grammarly but for doctor's notes!
Being humble with not understanding a concept goes a long way.

A sneak peak into my work:

Designing for a complex workflow

After conducting UX research through methods such as user interviews, directed storytelling and usability testing, I found that the following pain points caused the most inefficiency in HCC Collaborate:
  1. The grouping of diagnoses did not match the order of what the CDI staff wanted to look at for insurance and billing purposes
  2. It is difficult to get insight into the status of the diagnosis before clicking on it
  3. The UI did not indicate if a diagnosis belonged to an HCC already outranked by another HCC, leading to wasted work.
Official 3M outcome graphic for HCC Collaborate link
I oversaw a redesign project aimed at addressing these pain points, including the grouping of diagnoses into HCCs and the addition of status-indicating icons. I conducted usability tests with CDI staff from various hospital systems, including Lehigh Valley Health Network, Baylor Scott & White, and IU Health. These tests helped refine the redesign to be adaptable to diverse organizational needs and processes, resulting in a positive reception from all hospital systems.
"The new 3M redesign is a lot better to look at compared to the old design. It has been much easier for the team to prioritize what to work on."
- Lehigh Valley Health Network
A big thing in healthcare is how different hospital systems each have their own setup (and thus like to ask different things from you)

Personal design takeaway:

Avoiding “design by committee”

I quickly learned at M*Modal to steer away from 'design by committee,' particularly in group customer calls. Initially, I joined weekly customer adoption team calls as a means to gather user feedback efficiently, given the challenges of scheduling additional time with healthcare workers due to time constraints and organizational barriers.

While these calls helped identify existing issues, explicitly soliciting design feedback in these settings had drawbacks. Often, individuals higher up in the organizational hierarchy tended to provide feedback based on initial impressions and sometimes insisted on specific design directions without openness to further iteration, resulting in 'design by committee.'

I realized that the primary contributors to feedback during these calls were administrators and team leads who had purchased our software for others at the organization, highlighting the distinction between the 'customer' and the end user.
One of my biggest pain points was recruiting for users...
The disconnect between feedback sources and actual users became problematic, especially given the prevalent focus on 'reducing clicks' in healthcare software. Administrators often favored Design A (4 clicks) over Design B (5 clicks) solely due to the lower click count, disregarding factors like error reduction, user-friendliness, and overall task efficiency.

“Usability does not equate to a specific number of clicks, taps, swipes, pinches, flicks.”
- John Morkes
Recognizing the need for more focused user input, I shifted my approach to prioritize recruiting CDI specialists who would be the primary users of our software, both current and potential. This approach ensured more representative data during research.
Customer calls are a great opportunity to ask managers if I can talk to one of their team members for testing!

Personal design takeaway:

Working with cross-functional teams

Besides learning how to better navigate interaction with users and customers, I also learned a great deal about effective collaboration with other teams within the organization during my time at M*Modal.

The product teams I worked with followed an Agile sprint framework using Jira for task assignment in 2-week sprints. The process typically operated in a waterfall fashion, starting with adoption teams/product owners and passing tasks down to developers and QA. This method presented several pitfalls for me after multiple iterations:

  1. Lack of opportunities to innovate and explore ideas when being reactive to issues rather than proactively designing for as a UX designer
  2. Severe time constraints, lack of time for user research if rapid handoff to a developer is expected within the sprint
  3. Sometimes an issue would be deemed as a “quick fix” and be handed off directly to a developer without UX input, which would sometimes lead to usability and/or visual consistency issues
  4. After I handed off a design, the design could be deemed as not technically feasible, or require too much development work for the current sprint
My manager once commented that UX gets to see things from a "birds eye view" perspective, getting to see a big picture that others rarely do. After more cross-collaboration, I totally get it.

Personal design takeaway:

Importance of design advocacy

I quickly found that alignment with cross-functional teams was crucial, and I needed to advocate for user-centered design in order to do so. Advocacy enhanced my ability to contribute to 'big picture' design initiatives, and allowed me to innovate, conduct in-depth user research, and iterate on designs while aligning with product owners on vision and timelines.

To foster alignment and improve the CDI specialist user experience, I introduced a weekly/biweekly 'UX Update' meeting, open to all interested parties. Colleagues found it valuable for cross-communication, bridging gaps in the work handoff process under our Agile sprint model. It facilitated early awareness of technical constraints for adoption specialists and product owners while helping developers and QA testers understand their impact on the final user experience.

I advocated for user-centered design practices at M*Modal, promoting research and testing despite tight timelines. I also presented a talk at M*Modal's company-wide conference, Closed Loop, encouraging everyone to champion user-focused design.
Some of my favorite moments at M*Modal are coworkers reaching out to me privately after a UX meeting or talk I gave to tell me how much they loved the meeting and how it helped them gain a deeper appreciation of the impact of their own work.

For more insight into my work at 3M, a password protected case study is available here.