Redesigning the Patient Record with gravitytank


Patients are currently lacking a forum to understand their total health picture. Regular people, patients, get no value from viewing their medical records. They’re full of medical jargon, non-intuitive, and are a snapshot of historical information that can’t be acted upon. However, these same records hold a trove of rich medical data that can help patients understand and better their health if presented properly.

In November 2012, the White House Presidential Innovation Fellowship issued a Healthcare Design Challenge to reimagine the patient record using data from the Veterans Administration’s Blue Button. The winning entry, Nightingale, consisted of a team of designers and strategists who sought to create a patient-centered health record that improves quality of care and motivates patients to better manage their health.

The team learned quickly that while the data in the record is incredibly valuable, most patients don’t have the health literacy to interpret and analyze it. They used a design thinking process – insight to idea to implementation – to frame the redesign. Beyond visual look and feel, the redesign considered how to make patient data relevant and accessible, so patients can take ownership of their health. Nightingale allows patients to see the relationships between conditions and procedures, while providing clear, actionable steps for patients to manage their health going forward.


The team doesn’t consider Nightingale to be the perfect solution, but rather a way of bringing the guiding principles to life in a tangible way. Moving forward, they hope that the intent for an actionable and meaningful patient record remains and others build on these ideas, adding feedback from patients and physicians. Over the next few months, the Presidential Innovation Fellowship will lead a team of designers and developers in combining elements of the winning designs into a platform that will be implemented in VA hospitals and provided open source on GitHub.

The authors are members of the gravitytank design team, based in Chicago. Meet the Chicago Health Tech community at the Local Health 2.0 Chicago Conference on April 13th and learn everything you need to know about building a health tech startup. (Regular tickets are just $100, get a $25 discount with code HEALTH2NEWS.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *