Going behind the scenes with MiSalud and The Holding Co. design sprint
A key factor in Magnify Venture’s decision to join MiSalud Health’s seed investor syndicate was the proven product design talent of the founders. Co-Founders Bismarck Lepe and Wendy Johansson’s last start-up together was Wizeline, a global digital design and development consultancy serving Fortune 100s. Combined with the team’s cultural affinity and understanding of the Hispanic community, we knew they could move quickly to become the first culturally aligned telehealth solution for the critically underserved and growing 60M+ million Spanish speakers in the US.
But why not add some rocket fuel?
When we proposed a sprint with our partner The Holding Co. — a world-class design studio focused on innovation in caregiving, the MiSalud founders immediately accepted.
Magnify Partner & Founder Dialogue
Featuring Wendy Johannson, MiSalud Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer, and Sabina Pareja-Lecaros, The Holding Co. Senior Product Design Lead
Magnify: Why was The Holding Co project so timely?
Wendy / MiSalud: At that point, we had already gathered quantitative research through US Census Bureau, Statista, and national health databases, and conducted qualitative guerilla research with community members in the field, at bodegas, pupuserias, and even COVID vaccine sites. But we were lacking a broader understanding of how Hispanic communities approach healthcare, particularly across generational and socio-economic demographics, to help frame the learnings from our research.
We hoped that The Holding Co. team, with their depth and breadth in the Care Economy, could help us tease out relevant insights from our research and translate them into working hypotheses for our initial customer segmentation strategy.
Magnify: Can you share your respective goals for the design sprint?
Sabina / The Holding Co: Our ambition at The Holding Co is to be constantly learning and reframing how best to build a modern care system. We envision a future in which there is robust care for everyone, everywhere in this country. This requires that we look at systems change through many different lenses. We were inspired by MiSalud’s mission and the opportunity to work on their quest to deliver health care to such a critically underserved population. Along the way, our specific learning goal was to develop unique design capabilities for the Hispanic American population.
Wendy / MiSalud: It was critical that our team develop a broader perspective of the Hispanic community, particularly because of its complexity, across multiple dimensions including language preference/dominance, generational, country of origin, and socioeconomic. My goal was to understand the mental model and approach to health care for community members across all dimensions, in order to build a virtual first primary care platform that was inclusive for all patients in the community.
Magnify: Please share an overview of your design methodology.
Sabina / The Holding Co: During the seven-week sprint we conducted open-ended interviews with Hispanic adult children in English and Spanish that explored their healthcare experiences, their parents’ healthcare experience, their family dynamics, their desires for healthcare outcomes, relationship with technology, and more. We also shared early concepts, or “sacrificial concepts,” to spark tangible feedback about what they liked, didn’t like or wished for instead for in caregiving services.
Our methodology of listening, learning, building, and refining ultimately leads to important insights into customers’ needs and experiences. We saw behavioral patterns that helped us build a user segmentation framework — what product decisions make sense for what audience. Once we knew who we were designing for, it was easier to know what to make and why to make it. In this case, we completed our sprint with product concepts for key moments of the service experience, as well as recommendations dialed to specific consumer profiles.
Magnify: What are some of those early insights that are now incorporated into MiSalud’s client proposition?
Wendy / MiSalud: One of our biggest insights was how low-tech savvy adults were enabled on mobile devices, which portrayed a different perspective to quantitative Statista data that indicated US Hispanics over-index on mobile usage as compared to other Americans. We learned that many of the less tech-savvy, older adults were enabled by an adult child who installed and set up accounts such as WhatsApp and Facebook for them. Armed with this information, we are designing Familia plans that enable an adult to set up a family profile for another user while keeping PHI confidential, and considering how to allow an adult set up a consultation for a lower tech-savvy adult, and having the latter simply receive an SMS with a deep link to begin the consultation with a MiSalud health coach or doctor.
Magnify: How is MiSalud positioned as a pioneer in culturally aligned digital health solutions?
Sabina / The Holding Co: Besides building a digital offering grounded in shared language and culture, we saw an immediate opportunity to differentiate Misalud with a multi-user experience. Many Hispanic adult children are integrated into their parents’ health care experience — from finding providers, to setting up video calls, to actually attending appointments with them. But the digital experience of telehealth in the US today is often designed for only one user (the patient) creating an awkward situation for any caregiver wanting to navigate on behalf of their parents. Why can’t multiple family members attend visits, receive notes and recommendations, book appointments, and more? We helped MiSalud architect a unique offering for highly accessible multi-family caregiving.
Magnify: What tips might you share for other designers serving Hispanic populations?
Sabina / The Holding Co: For me, it was great to be able to connect with participants as a Latina, born and raised in Peru. I struggle myself not knowing where to start within the US healthcare system. In fact, I still travel home to Peru once a year to take care of my medical needs. As a result, I began this project knowing just how important it is to go beyond just language difference.
I recommend that designers hone in on cultural, emotional, and situational needs in their user research and particularly the importance of establishing trust. For example, the deep-seated connection that Spanish speakers have within their own community means that word-of-mouth recommendations from individuals greatly impact family healthcare decisions. On the flip-side, the skepticism towards the US western healthcare system is so pervasive that it must also be taken into account and designed around.
Magnify: In what ways can design thinking for platforms like MiSalud improve broader access and equity in healthcare today?
Sabina / The Holding Co: Designing for real people’s needs and experiences, in this case, Hispanic caregivers and older adults, ensures that healthcare solutions are actually what they want and desire. It sounds simple but we cannot let assumptions lead. Needs-based solutions can create real impact. The more we build solutions that work for everyone who needs care, the more equitable our systems become.
Wendy / MiSalud: We need to design health technology that is enabling instead of disrupting in order to center the solution on access and equity for underserved communities. Design thinking helps non-designers reframe the conversation to the user in a simple way, so all cross-functional stakeholders can champion for the people at the core of the problem.