Kat Esser

At the Intersection of Design, Health, And Extraordinary Basics

More About Kat Esser And The Patient Experience Lab

Kat Esser leads the Patient Experience Lab, which works with leaders across our national healthcare landscape to reimagine and prototype healthcare models of the future. The BIF Patient Experience Lab explores how individuals experience health and wellness, and uses those insights to design transformative models that enable healthy, productive lives. BIF has worked with leading healthcare systems, pediatric hospitals, nursing homes, and national funders to reimagine the health and wellness experience for children, mothers, families, and elders.

Here’s how we do it:

We start with a Design Challenge.

Example: In response to seeing declining community health and a significant uptake in emergency department use for non-emergency situations, Children’s Health System of Texas (CHST) tasked BIF to design, prototype, and test a transformative business model.

Shift: Human-Centered Research

Shifting the organization’s lens enables leaders to see transformational opportunities from the customer’s perspective, translating them into an actionable foundation for design.


For a large regional health insurance provider, we used ethnographic research techniques to understand how people experience healthcare. We found that traditional models of care often don’t recognize families and communities as a catalyst for improving health and well-being. The existing system didn’t work, because it constrained agency, focused only on individuals, and emphasized physical health over holistic family well-being.

Conceptual Design: Create, Deliver, Capture

Once a customer's job-to-be-done is identified, we can imagine a new customer experience and begin developing a next-practice or business model concept ready to be taken off the whiteboard and into the market for testing.

Example: We identified insights that helped our client, a large regional insurance provider, deeply understand the older adult experience. These insights were used to identify opportunities to deliver greater value to the Medicare consumer, creating coverage experiences that recognize older adults’ health and well-being priorities, mitigate their frustrations, and meet their most pressing needs. The solutions were vetted and refined by older adult participants, and presented to the client leadership team. Each solution was presented within an implementation context to inform future prototyping and testing strategies.

Prototype & Test

With a conceptual next practice or new business model idea ready to test, a low-fidelity prototype is developed and taken into the market to test iteratively for feasibility and viability in the real world.

Example: For Children’s Health System of Texas (CHST), we designed and built a prototype to test the new model with a small population. This prototype combined new capabilities with existing capabilities from CHST and community partners. The prototype was iterated in real time by observing how the component parts worked together and using learnings to quickly adapt the model so that desired outcomes were achieved in a repeatable manner.