How OhioHealth Put Patients at the Center ft. Sue Jablonski, CMO


Season 2, Episode 2

We’ve all been there. The victim of poor usability. Digital interactions are more prevalent than ever. And consumers are quick to find other solutions when they are having a less than optimal user experience.

With consumers expecting more personalized and meaningful engagements, how can health systems keep up?

Join Chris Hemphill as they discuss user centered design strategies with Sue Jablonski, SVP, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at OhioHealth. Sue provides insights and examples of how focusing on the consumer can improve the delivery of care.

Video Chapters
01:26 Why OhioHealth Adopted User Centered Design
02:34 How User Centered Planning is Changing Healthcare
03:42 Catching Up with Other Industries
05:42 User Centered Planning Case Study: Virtual Health
07:40 Unexpected Insights: How Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomers Want to Engage
11:10 What Happens When Leadership Resists?
13:50 How to Use Planning to Adapt for the Future
16:40 Personalization in Healthcare

This conversation is brought to you by Actium Health in partnership with the Forum for Healthcare Strategists.

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Chris Hemphill

VP, Applied AI & Growth
Actium Health


Sue Jablonski

Chief Marketing & Communications Officer

OhioHealth logo

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Chris Hemphill (00:00):
We’re guilty. Guilty as charged. We’ve talked about so many different technologies and care modalities here. From personalization and CRM intelligence to virtual health, but we haven’t discussed the real star of the show, the folks that this is all for, the consumers and the patients.

Chris Hemphill (00:16):
At HMPS, we sat down with Sue Jablonski, Chief Marketing Officer for OhioHealth to discuss how to put the patient at the center of the planning process. It’s not just surveys and journey mapping sessions, it’s processes like human-centered design and user-centered design that help hone in on what our consumers want and need.

Chris Hemphill (00:37):
It’s combining both the qualitative and the quantitative. After the break, Sue will outline how they launch this in healthcare and what they learned along the way.

Chris Hemphill (00:48):
Consumer experiences, major disruptors in AI tech are shaping healthcare for years to come. On Hello Healthcare we dive deep on these issues with leaders who are driving change. I’m Chris Hemphill, VP of Applied AI at Actium Health. We hope that these stories will help you to create or demand better future in healthcare.

Chris Hemphill (01:13):
Hello, Healthcare. We are so excited to be at HMPS on the floor. Excited to have the opportunity to meet with people again and have these discussions. We wanted to share a bit of the conference with you and some of the overarching themes that we’ve seen.

Chris Hemphill (01:27):
A lot of the themes that you might hear about from HMPS are around transforming consumer experiences, transforming patient experiences with the context of the people that we’re serving. There’s no better way to start focusing on that than this newer concepts around human-centered and user-centered planning and design.

Chris Hemphill (01:46):
To see that Sue Jablonski, who is a Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President at OhioHealth, to see that she was delivering a talk on this topic user-centered planning and design and virtual health, we were really excited to be able to bring her on.

Chris Hemphill (02:01):
Susan, could you share a little bit of background on your interest in that subject and just a background on you and how you got here, and how you discovered this concept [inaudible 00:02:11]

Sue Jablonski (02:10):
At OhioHealth as our marketing team has grown, I know when I started there 13 years ago, took that job I had a on person digital team. Now, our digital team, I haven’t counted it up, but it’s probably 30 some because digital team also includes a big UX team user experience.

Sue Jablonski (02:31):
As we’ve grown the team and worked to deliver products and services for our patients and for the organization, we know that we have to start with a different lens, not the internal lens, but the user lens. It’s really the start of how we get anything going before we even begin to visualize a product or a service.

Chris Hemphill (02:51):
A lot of people, we’ve actually had a couple of thoughts on planning and things like that. I feel like with planning, it’s a situation where a lot of people might think that they’re doing it well, but might be missing some key elements. When we say user-centered planning and design and the discovery path towards that, what’s the difference between that and conventional pathways of doing planning?

Sue Jablonski (03:13):
Let’s just say, virtual health, if we were going to start virtual health, we would start by talking to our doctors. What do you want to do virtually with patients? What’s important to you? We flip that and we first start with the user, but then we bring everybody together.

Sue Jablonski (03:28):
We have a slide in the talk that we’re giving about this, that shows, I don’t know, 15, 16 different people in the room. There’s a respiratory therapist, there’s a patient, there’s a physician. There’s all kinds of different people because they’re all users. In healthcare, we have to start with the end user, which is the patient or the consumer.

Chris Hemphill (03:47):
Excellent. That’s really exciting. I love hearing about all the people in the room, including the patient who’s not always in that room. Could you talk about like the discovery of this process and this idea to bring everybody together, and start gathering their context?

Sue Jablonski (04:02):
We’re in an age where everybody’s talking about agile, and there’s design thinking, and all those kind of things. There’s a specialty that’s developed, which is user experience, UX is what we call it. I know it’s interesting. Our UX team, for example, one of my UX people is actually an industrial designer.

Sue Jablonski (04:23):
I never would’ve hired an industrial designer five or six years ago, but she comes at things very differently. What we’ve realized is healthcare is so far behind in delivering products and services that really are designed to meet the needs because they’ve listened to the consumer.

Sue Jablonski (04:39):
Think about retail and think about banking and even insurance, and your ability to get your product. I can be standing in the grocery store line and buy some insurance. Healthcare hasn’t been like that because we haven’t been listening to our customers.

Sue Jablonski (04:55):
We’ve been listening to what the doctors and the administrators. The white coats and the suit coats have been driving what did. We’re turning the tide, it’s really fun.

Chris Hemphill (05:04):
I love the way that you’re turning the tide. I love the way that a lot of this came from hiring somebody from an industrial design background, somebody with a different background in healthcare. Then listening to the employee and bubbling up a lot of the [inaudible 00:05:17] outside of healthcare.

Sue Jablonski (05:17):
We do a lot. Actually, I remember one time when I shadowed one of our UX people. We were dealing with an issue at the hospital on throughput in the emergency departments. I spent five hours with her in our busiest emergency department and just watched her observe and ask people questions.

Sue Jablonski (05:37):
She’s just listening. Then, we went back to this war room where other UX people were doing it in other of our hospitals and they were mapping and there were post-it notes and journeys, and friction points. How can we fix this? The way they think is differently and it’s really exciting.

Chris Hemphill (05:56):
I’d love to zoom in on one of these use cases. I know that you’ll be talking about virtual health. Would that be a good one to zoom in? Just highlight the concept of here’s how our listening works and here’s the process that we go through in journey mapping. Can you talk through us through that with the virtual health?

Sue Jablonski (06:12):
With virtual health, I’d give you the context. Luckily, before COVID we had been working on virtual health. We had set it up a little bit, not a lot, it was not scalable, or anything like that. We set board goals at OhioHealth and we had a three-year board goal to get virtual health throughout all of our employed physician offices, and in our specialty services and all of that.

Sue Jablonski (06:35):
We had three years and then COVID hit. Luckily, we had already done some user sessions with some patients in primary care and things like that. “What would you consider doing virtually?” We had been talking to physicians and things like that. We just put it on fast forward like everybody else.

Sue Jablonski (06:56):
We tried to bring in research we had from other things because our three-year board goal got down and we were up and operating fully across many specialties in six weeks. It goes to show that you can do it. We were up and we were able to use some of the insights that we had from previous. Once we were up, we kept iterating.

Sue Jablonski (07:17):
We kept going back to the users. Now, we couldn’t do it in person because of COVID, but talking to our patients and what the experience was. How long were they waiting in the virtual waiting room? How could we do that? We would reach out to them rather than just looking at benchmarks in the industry.

Sue Jablonski (07:37):
We wanted to create our own benchmarks based on what our patients were telling us.

Chris Hemphill (07:42):
I love the concept of we’re newly listening to patients and [inaudible 00:07:47] experience. Were there insights that you guys got or tendencies trends that you saw that you weren’t expecting?

Sue Jablonski (07:53):
Geez, there were probably many because we were moving so fast. I’ll tell you one, it is an insight. We wrongly assume that a lot of our elderly patients would be really hesitant about it because it’s technology, and they were all over it. They were all over it. When we dug a little deeper and talked to them, some of the reasons were they still just wanted to be able to connect.

Sue Jablonski (08:22):
The fact that they could have a connection with their doctor, who they trusted and often we had to work them through sometimes on technical or they had somebody helping them, that was really interesting. The other thing was how people were open to the dialogue. It really had become a two-way street.

Sue Jablonski (08:43):
If I had a rash or something and you can only get to see so much on that. Asking questions and ask going deeper. The patient ends up getting more involved in the care, they’re less passive. They have to be more engaged when you’re trying to connect virtually versus in person. Those were a couple things that come to mind right away.

Chris Hemphill (09:05):
That’s really powerful evolution in healthcare in general. We’re coming from long ago when people would be diagnosed from something and not even be privy to knowledge what they’re being diagnosed to. Now, people are participating.

Sue Jablonski (09:18):
It’s interesting you say that too because back it was in 2011, when we had done a lot of work on our brand promise at OhioHealth. Our brand promise, it’s eight simple words it took forever to get to, but is a trusted partner in your best health. We talked about that partnership and how it’s evolved.

Sue Jablonski (09:35):
My parents did whatever the doctor said. The doctor was king, queen, whatever. My generation on the baby boomer, it was like, “I still have some questions. I have little information.” Then, the younger ones really want to be engaged. When it comes down to it, healthcare is the most personal thing that you have besides your money.

Sue Jablonski (09:55):
I hope if you’re my physician that although I come in and I’ve Googled, and I know what you want to do, I hope you’re a little bit smarter than me and will ask a few more questions. Virtual health is allowing that partnership in a whole different way and I think that helps to build trust.

Chris Hemphill (10:12):
Fantastic. Honestly, when you said a trusted partner in your best health partner was the word that I cue.

Sue Jablonski (10:19):
It’s so important. If I’m going to talk to my doctor, I’m going to share things with my physician that I may not even share with my spouse. You’ve got to have that trust and I really want it to be a partnership because this is my body. I’m not just a rash on the arm or a sinus infection. I’m a real person.

Voiceover (10:43):
Hello Healthcare is brought to you by Actium Health. Healthcare leaders use Actium CRM intelligence to activate patients and drive meaningful engagement. You can make it simple to identify and predict patient needs by using AI-driven next best actions. Learn more at Now, back to the show.

Chris Hemphill (11:09):
Here’s something that comes to question because when you were talking about the way that healthcare was delivered in the past, versus how we’re going from the dictatorship to partnership, there’s probably going to be some resistance, even with the insights that you gather.

Chris Hemphill (11:23):
Did you ever find that there might have been resistance to some of the data that that happened? Just curious about how working through layers of organizational resistance.

Sue Jablonski (11:31):
When you’re talking about this, you’re talking about change management. We have habits and we all have different prejudices. There was prior to COVID a lot of resistance on the physicians side of it. I have to see somebody in person. It’s just not going to work, all those kind of things. When COVID hit, we all had the mandate.

Sue Jablonski (11:52):
How do we stay connected so they’re more open to it. Here’s what’s interesting now, and this is the change behavior thing. We’re past COVID, although we’re in a COVID surge now, but we are also seeing patients in the office, and we want to promote virtual visits. We’re doing all we can on the marketing end, we’re doing the digital campaigns.

Sue Jablonski (12:12):
Were doing the blogs, the emails, all that kind of stuff. We have found some practices that when you call for an appointment and they should offer, “Do you want it to be in person? Do you want it to be virtual?’ They sometimes don’t offer it or they don’t encourage it. What we’ve been finding, this is fascinating insight, and the UX people found this is they went to offices to see what was working what wasn’t.

Sue Jablonski (12:33):
There’s a fear by some of the office staff that if everything goes to virtual, they’ll lose their jobs to be replaced by you don’t need as many people in the office to do things or to schedule. That’s been an interesting insight I think that we wouldn’t have gotten if the UX team wasn’t going to the offices observing and saying to people, “Why did you not offer a virtual visit to that patient?” As you talk and build trust, then things come out.

Chris Hemphill (13:01):
No doubt. Without that, our response to people not scheduling virtual visits would be like, “Well, here are the benefits.” It would be missing the deeper point of why there were some resistance there.

Sue Jablonski (13:11):
I think it’s human nature. The office staff are saying, “What’s in it for me? I want bodies in the office. I want to chauffeur them back or maybe I want that human touch.” The other reality is of that all healthcare is working with right now virtual visits is what’s the insurance company going to pay for?

Sue Jablonski (13:27):
The doctors are looking their RVUs and how many RVUs they have to generate. It’s different for in person visit than a virtual visit.

Chris Hemphill (13:37):
We’ve gone over the Genesis of it, how you discovered the process and things like that. Then that virtual health use case. I’m curious how patients have been responding and whether or not you see this virtual health landscape as the long term future?

Sue Jablonski (13:52):
It’s absolutely the future. I think even more so and the challenge too for us as a health system is that our competition used to be down the street, the other two major adult systems in Columbus, and every other health system. We compete against health systems, but there are disruptors left and right.

Sue Jablonski (14:10):
They used to be nipping at our heels and now they’re chomping. Talk about virtual health, there’s Teladoc, there’s Amwell, there’s all these out there. They’re advertising and marketing to patients in Columbus that wherever they’re located, they’ve got doctors in California and Idaho and everywhere, and people are doing it. It was interesting.

Sue Jablonski (14:30):
I have a millennial friend who never goes to the doctor, never, ever, ever goes to the doctor.

Chris Hemphill (14:34):
You’re not talking about me, are you?

Sue Jablonski (14:36):
No, I’m not talking about you. You’re right, you’re in that category. It was interesting. He never goes to the doctor and I was talking to him and he said he had strep throat, and he was taking medicine. I said, “Oh my gosh, you actually went to a doctor?” Because you got to do that. He goes, “Well, no, I did a virtual visit.”

Sue Jablonski (14:53):
I said, “Who’d you do it with?” It wasn’t a health system in town. I said, “I think when I’ve had strep throat, they’ve had to stick something down my throat and swab it.” He said, “No, I did a flashlight and they looked at it and stuff like that, and they called me in a prescription.

Sue Jablonski (15:09):
The part of me is thinking is good medicine? This is somebody who wouldn’t have gone to the doctor and he got medicine, but I need to dig deeper with him to say, “Why didn’t you go to OhioHealth? My guess, I don’t think he has a doctor. This was easy. He could get online and do it and do it at any time he wanted.

Sue Jablonski (15:28):
That’s the competition we have out there, it’s not going to change. Especially, with this younger generation, they want simple, affordable, accessible care when they want it, where they want it, how they want it. That’s usually a phone.

Chris Hemphill (15:39):
I love hearing the nature of that story of using this user-centered planning design, of asking questions of our consumers. One of the opportunities that these disruptors see is that a lot of organizations especially if we bubbled up to the bigger tech companies and retail companies, they’re really good at that consumer experience.

Sue Jablonski (15:58):
They are so good. Everybody goes to the same example because it’s so good, Amazon and Amazon Prime. Who doesn’t have a Prime account? They’re always feeding things up you like this, you might like that. They’re listening with all the technology and the algorithms, so how can we do that?

Sue Jablonski (16:20):
If we know that you’re a runner and you’ve seen a doctor because your knee hurt or something, but what else can we not feed up to you necessarily for care, but other services or knowledge, you just want knowledge. Health care’s all about building that trust like we talked about a couple minutes ago.

Sue Jablonski (16:39):
If we can get some stickiness with you, but we have to meet you where you are instead of asking you to meet us where we are.

Chris Hemphill (16:46):
The picture that you’re painting is all about context. The context that you ask for, the context that you observe through data points, it’s all the above with that Amazon type of experience.

Sue Jablonski (16:55):
it’s really about observing. You’ve got to use your eyes. You got to use your ears. You’ve got to listen. You got to use your mind and ask questions more than anything, you have to be curious, but we have to remember why we’re doing this and we’re doing this to better take care of people.

Sue Jablonski (17:11):
Yes, there’s a business case that we have to have. Mm. One thing that’s wonderful that’s kept me in healthcare for so many years is that we’re mission-oriented. We’re about the people and making them better. You can’t do that if you don’t know them, understand them, listen to them.

Chris Hemphill (17:25):
Susan, I got to say, we love to see it. I really appreciate you coming in, and sharing the story around that. I love the transparency around it. There’s going to be resistance to some of the insights that you find, and you have to act on it. For the folks that love to talk and want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way people can reach out?

Sue Jablonski (17:44):
Probably the easiest would be LinkedIn. You can send me a message, Sue Jablonsky at OhioHealth. Then my email though, somebody once said it’s Susan, my formal name,

Chris Hemphill (17:59):
Thank you again.

Sue Jablonski (18:00):
Thank you, Chris.

Chris Hemphill (18:02):
Thanks again for tuning into Hello Healthcare. If you like what you heard, we appreciate a review on Apple, Spotify or wherever you’re listening. You and your feedback fuel us. This conversation is brought to you by Actium Health.

Chris Hemphill (18:15):
To get the latest on what these healthcare leaders are saying, subscribe to our newsletter on or join us for our weekly sessions on LinkedIn. Thanks. When we see you next time, hello.

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