pds getting started header
Marcie Hopkins, U of U Health.
How to Prepare for Patient Design Studio and Advise Utah
Patient Experience Program Coordinator Corrie Harris and Project Administrator Emily Izzo explain how to get valuable patient feedback early in your improvement efforts by meeting with the U of U Health Patient Design Studio and Advise Utah.

What is the Patient Design Studio?


he Patient Design Studio (PDS) is University of Utah Health's patient family advisory council. Its members are patients and caregivers, known as Designers, who meet with improvers at any point along their problem investigation, design, or implementation.

Some Designers are healthy, some are chronically ill, some feel comfortable with technology, and others are MyChart novices. All are passionate about improving the delivery of health care. ​

They provide a casual, honest, and safe environment to discuss projects, and provide timely feedback that helps ensure the proposed solutions address actual patient needs.

Why should I bring my project to the Patient Design Studio? 

The Patient Design Studio is a great way to practice your design thinking. Our Designers may bring up issues you have not considered in your project. If you have a project in mind, the perspectives from the Designers can save time and money by reducing the number of improvement cycles needed to find the solution.  

What is Advise Utah? 

Advise Utah is an online community of patients from throughout the Intermountain West  that provide feedback (typically regarding the same topic discussed at the PDS session) in the form of customized short-form surveys.  

Why should I bring my project to Advise Utah? 

This targeted information is used to help improve health care delivery for patients at University of Utah Health, and brings a wider variety of voices to our in-person PDS session. Utilizing the Advise Utah surveys also ensures that patients will actually benefit from your improvement project.  

How do we know when to come?

The best time to bring a project is during the early stages of planning. Maybe you have noticed a trend in your patient comments but are unsure where to start. Or perhaps you are concerned about how to implement a new mandate, regulation, or policy. These are perfect times to come. Designers can offer you a wide range of perspectives, which represent the demographics of the communities that we serve. You can also count on them to provide feedback you can use right now. 

What types of projects do they review?

Examples of recent projects presented through PDS and Advise Utah include MyChart proxy access, new hospital garage signage, and the consent process during exams. 

Here are a few more examples that incorporate patient feedback received:

Problem: We’re building a new outpatient clinic building. What should the exam rooms look like compared to the proposal from the architectural firm?

Patient Designer Feedback: Exam rooms should maximize conversation. Rooms should allow my doctor to look at me without the barrier of the computer, but there should also be a place for my doctor to show or draw something for me. At least 2 people need to fit in the room, and one of those may be in a wheelchair.

Problem: There is discomfort, extra cost, and lost time for patients that don’t properly prepare for their procedure.

Patient Designer Feedback: The prep document contradicted itself, needed to fit on one page, and should include more pictures or diagrams where possible.

Problem: Our acutely sick patients don’t know what to expect after their appointment.

Patient Designer Feedback: Acutely ill patients need more structured communication. Try providing written information at the end of the visit with diagnosis, medications, when the physician expects the patient to feel better, and what to do if the patient doesn’t feel better in the expected amount of time. (read more about same-day dermatology)

How do I begin? Here are five steps to prepare:

#1. Tell us about your project

If you have an improvement project or idea that you would like to run by PDS and Advise Utah, contact the Patient Experience team to schedule a planning meeting. During this initial meeting, we will discuss your project and how you can best engage PDS and Advise Utah.  

#2. Prepare for the planning meeting 

Below are some prompts to think about as you prepare your topic. Download this form to respond to the prompts and send back to corrie.harris@hsc.utah.edu prior to the planning meeting. 

  • Background: Tell us a little about you and/or your department + any pertinent background information to provide context and clarity around the project. 
  • Problem Statement: What problem are you looking to solve?  
  • Intervention: What interventions, if any, do you have planned? 
  • Patient voice: How does the patient voice fit into this project? 
  • Goal: What do you want to learn from the Advise Utah survey? (quantitative), What do you want to learn from the PDS session? (qualitative)  
  • Supporting materials: Do you have any documents or graphics that need to be reviewed by the patient designers to understand this topic? 

#3. Together, we’ll prepare for the survey and session 

From your input and information gathered during the planning meeting, our team will develop questions to ask Designers for both the Advise Utah survey and PDS session. 

  • For the Advise Utah survey, we’ll focus more on quantitative questions to uncover sentiment and themes that we can dig deeper into during the PDS session. Surveys are sent to Advise Utah Designers 1 week prior to the PDS session. 

  • For the PDS session, we’ll focus more on qualitative questions (around 3–5) that promote discussion and actionable feedback. 

We’ll also develop a slide deck using your supporting materials to share during the PDS session. The slide deck is sent to PDS Designers 1 week prior to the PDS session. 

#4. Review survey results and attend the session 

Prior to the PDS session, we will send you the survey results to review. If needed, our team will refine the presentation and discussion questions depending on the survey feedback.

PDS sessions are held on the second Monday of each month via Zoom from 12:00–1:00pm to discuss improvement projects. 

We recommend sending no more than one project representative to the session.  

Our team will facilitate the session: We’ll give an introduction, jump start the discussion, ask questions, and take minutes so you can listen, rather than take notes.  

While it may feel a little stressful or anxiety-inducing, most of those fears are dissuaded once you get into the session. Our Designers are engaged and welcoming. They want your project to be successful.  

Great sessions happen when both patients and improvers feel heard. Active listening and open communication goes a long way.  

#5. Reflect and improve

Approximately one week after the meeting, we will send you the results of the Advise Utah survey and an overview of the PDS discussion.  

Improvers are encouraged to come back to the group to provide updates on their project, seek additional feedback, and provide closure to patients.  


This article was originally published Feb. 5, 2020 and has been updated with current information. 


Corrie Harris

Program Coordinator, Patient Experience, University of Utah Health

Emily Izzo

Project Administrator, Patient Experience and Accelerate, University of Utah Health

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest insights in health care impact, improvement, leadership, resilience, and more.