What We Wish for When We Wish for a Better Health Care Experience

By Katherine Martinko, Illustration by Melissa Zarou

This post was first published on Medium. It is reposted here with permission from its author.

As a UX team, our highest duty is to serve the people who will be using our products; people dealing with a stressful day or a stressful diagnosis. The best part of our job is when we actually get to talk to these people. We get a few nurses on the phone, or we go room-to-room visiting patients in hospitals, trying to learn more about their lives and needs. We call this ‘discovery work’, and because of deadlines and other constraints, we don’t get to do it every single day. That’s why we get really excited when we see other people doing inspiring things we can learn from.

Flip the Clinic (an amazing project from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) held a Twitter conversation in February starting with the hashtags #IWishMyDoc and #IWishMyPatient (Flip #33). Hundreds of people shared their thoughts and generated new threads using #IWishMyHospital, #IWishMyClinic, #IWishMyNurse, #IWishMyInsurer, and #IWishHealthcare.

#IWish we had known about it while it was going on. But, even if we were late to the party, we read each and every one of the responses. Sorting through the many frustrations with insurance claims, front office staff, and people who wanted to go “Office Space” on their doctor’s fax machine, there were also powerful calls to acknowledge each other’s humanity. From the simple to the profound, here are some of the top things we learned.


 #IWish Responses

Patients and clinicians are on the same team. Sometimes the stress, pain, and pressures of healthcare make it hard to remember that, but clinicians are mostly just human beings trying their best. Patients and families are mostly just looking for mutual respect and support.

“I wish my patient really understood why I’m running late; I usually can’t tell them: http://t.co/k1WReeDcK8

“I wish my nurse in oncology didn’t ask if mom smoked, and then say to me ‘I’m sorry she did this to you.’ Yes, it really happened.”

“I wish my doc never felt this alone at work: http://t.co/03WFBSfWw8

“I wish my patient would accept team based care (PA/APN) to accommodate it: ‘I only want to see my doc.’”

“I wish my doc had treated me like I was going to survive.”


 The fax has got to go. This isn’t 1989, why is this still a thing? As one doctor pointed out, it’s still the method of least friction for transferring records and information. Least friction for who? Certainly not patients, and probably not doctors either. There has to be a better middle ground where we can easily and privately share info back and forth.

“I wish my doc would get rid of that f*$%ing fax machine!”

“I wish my hospital had voice-activated data entry so my doc could interface with ME and not the PC (hey, a girl can dream).”

“I wish my nurse would send me a follow-up email a few days after an office visit to see if I have questions.”

“I wish my doc would integrate telehealth into his practice (e.g. videoconference).”


 It’s all one experience for patients. The parking, the reception area, the wifi: it’s all part of one office visit or hospital stay. It’s time for full-stack patient satisfaction.

“I wish my hospital would let family and visitors know they could bring food for the patient.”

“I wish my hospital had a room for patients and caregivers. Have computers, books, sitting area for mingling, etc. Waiting room not comfortable.”

“I wish my doc knew how ‘know it all’ some front office staff act. They are our first impression. They need to be helpful.”

“I wish making a doctor’s appointment was as easy as making an Open Table reservation.”


There are very few full-time patients. Most of us have jobs, families, and other responsibilities taking up our time. Recognizing that, treatments and appointments should integrate into a patient’s schedule rather than obliterate it.

“I wish my hospital would sanction idea of running clinics in early AM or evening hours for convenience around working patients.”

“I wish my doctor had a better understanding of the day to day grind of Type 1 diabetes.”

“I wish doctors didn’t scribble prescriptions for drugs patients need the same day.”

“I wish my doc discussed life, not just vital signs.”


People need to walk out the door with more than just a prescription.There’s a huge need to provide verified resources and help make connections to others in the same situation.

“I wish my hospital would introduce me to newly dx so I can guide them to good resources.”

“I wish my doc would recommend support counseling for my loved one who is caregiving, he needs it as much as I do.”

“I wish my hospital would provide a more easily-accessible navigator to help me know which specialist/PCP to call when I have an issue.”

“I wish my patient would use internet to find GOOD info but be mindful of qualifications of course & not rely on ‘they say online.’”


Thank you to Flip the Clinic for this great idea and to everyone who participated. If you’d like to read more of the conversation, check out the official Storify.

Katherine Martinko is a public health nerd and devoted design thinker. She leads user research at GetWellNetwork and is hoping to finish her MPH degree at the George Washington University sometime in the next century. Follow her posts at https://medium.com/getwellnetwork-ux