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UX Speaker Series: Tracy Johnson

Recorded January 14, 2022, as part of the UX Speaker Series in the University of Washington's Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering.


Learnings from a design-led approach in Pathways

The Pathways project is an interdisciplinary design-led project aimed at identifying and deepening the understanding of the social and environmental factors that predict health risks and influence health care seeking and service uptake-related behaviors of families across the journey of a woman getting married to her child turning 5 years old. The project aims to answer four key questions:

1) What constitutes the social and environmental vulnerability of women and their children under 5 years within their household and community context in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, India, Northern Nigeria and Kenya?

2) How and when do social vulnerability and related domestic and familial dimensions impact health behaviors and uptake of health services?

3) How can the insights and data generated inform health systems design?

4) What kind of model can be derived from the data and insights to help BMGF partners and country governments assess a context’s social and environmental vulnerability and apply strategies to strengthen a community’s health related behaviors and improve service implementation?

The design led program utilizes an interdisciplinary approach bringing design thinking, behavioral science, anthropology and advanced statistical and modeling expertise together. The ultimate goal of the project is to provide new categorizations and new pathways to care and thus improve MNCH outcomes. The goal is to enable more holistic risk-mitigation interventions for the health of vulnerable women, U5 children and their families. However, implementing this novel approach in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the field of global public health was not without challenges. In this talk we’ll share how the project was structured, challenges faced by the team, and the solutions put in place to overcome these challenges.

Tracy Pilar Johnson, PhD is a Senior Program Officer on the Global Delivery Programs’ Insights Team, where she leads a portfolio of investments designed to bring an interdisciplinary approach – combining human-centered design and behavioral and social sciences – to illuminate the why behind how people, particularly women and their families, seek, receive and provide health care as a means to facilitate the behavior change necessary to improve people’s health and wellbeing. Tracy joined the foundation in 2015 on the Integrated Delivery Team, where she was tasked with developing and integrating a vision for incorporating a more human-centered design perspective into the foundation’s efforts. In this role she provided support across a number of Global Delivery and Global Health Program Strategy Teams and developed human-centered design tools for use in the foundation and among our partners. Tracy came to the foundation bringing experience from leadership roles in private sector consulting and design firms, as well as the public sector where she was a Chief of Party for a USAID-funded Anti-trafficking in Persons Task Order. She has extensive experience translating market and consumer insights to inform policy and strategy in environments and subjects as varied as digital technology, health care industries, consumer research, maternal and child health, sexual reproductive health, frontline health worker platforms, education, and human rights. She is a design leader for a contributor to the award-winning LEAP Dialogues: Career Pathways in Design for Social Innovation, and editor of a special supplement to Global Health: Science and Practice, Design for Health: Human-Centered Design Looks to the Future. She received her PhD in social and cultural anthropology from Columbia University, and her BA in Psychology and Women’s Studies from Wesleyan University.