By Cailey Ryckman, Finance and Accounting


When we are little, our lives are ruled by imagination.

I remember pretending to be a princess with a pink dress and a shiny crown; a teacher, with lesson plans and a penchant for homework; even a long lost British cousin, accent in tow. And while I don’t rock a tiara anymore, I never lost that mindset of ‘playing pretend.’ The best of innovation comes when we are pretending to be someone else.

Scientists at MIT recently designed a suit that allows a healthy, young, agile person understand what an elderly person goes through on a daily basis. Though a far cry from my simple childhood dress up costumes, this suit simulates everything from imbalance and restricted movements to poor eyesight and stiff joints. Researchers use this suit to better understand the physical environments around them and how they can be better designed to accommodate an elderly consumer. The suit, though useful and impressive, lacks the ability to simulate one very important thing—the mind.

When I read this article, I immediately thought that it would be awesome if we could have a device to simulate, from a mental perspective, what our patients go through during the billing process.

From unfriendly bills with small font to unsympathetic customer service representatives, what are the biggest obstacles facing a patient that just wants to pay their bill? Furthermore, how can we use our understanding of the process and its frustrations in order to improve our product and service?

Patientco’s user experience solves these problems. In creating our patient statements, for example, we talked at length with patients from all walks of life to understand how they interact with the world. In doing so we developed our own imaginary age suit to put those childhood skills to work and dive into the world of pretend. Would elderly and retired ‘me’ prefer a traditional statement or something with a cleaner, easier-to-read design? Would busy, thirty-something professional ‘me’ prefer want to pay by phone, check, or online?

While user experience design is no MIT-crafted age suit, it’s a great alternative we use to understand what goes on in the minds of our consumers. That is, until scientists actually create a “mind suit.” When they do, you better believe I’ll be in line along with my seven-year-old self’s curiosity, ready to try it out.