My name is Maxwell Morris and I am currently a senior at the iSchool. This summer, I was an intern at Optum within UnitedHealth Group. The internship was both a very rewarding experience and a great way for me to learn real-world skills that I have not been able to get in a classroom setting.
Over the course of ten weeks, I was assigned to a team of six where we were tasked to design a social media platform meant for healthcare, in light of the popularity of medical posts as a whole. This platform would provide users with credible healthcare information and direct people to supplemental resources and localized health care events. That way, people can make more informed healthcare decisions and it could help with the fight against the spread of misinformation. My team did a lot of primary and secondary research on the subject.
We interviewed a number of people from all kinds of demographics – teenagers, parents, individuals with disabilities such as ADHD, and even physicians. Getting the perspective of a vast amount of people from different backgrounds was a major goal of the project, so that we could also promote inclusivity in light of the current disparities in healthcare. In the end, we designed multiple platforms for different age groups based on their primary demographics (i.e. Facebook for older users and TikTok for the younger generation), while taking measures to ensure that accessibility was implemented in our platforms. For example, we included alternate text for blind users and captions for users who are deaf. We also eliminated potential distractions in the background of our post to accommodate ADHD users. All of the information posted to our platforms were accurate and could be cited to credible sources. Additionally, we included doctors within the organization that would make many of these posts, to promote further trust between doctors and patients.
I have learned a lot about what it means to design with different perspectives in mind and my ability to put myself in someone else’s shoes has improved. This internship has given me a newfound perspective on health equity, as well as accessibility for disabled individuals. I have also gotten a better insight on the industry standard for presenting my findings, having received valuable feedback and coaching throughout the creation and presentation of my team’s slide deck. These are all practical skills that I have learned better hands-on through this internship than just my coursework alone.
Prior to this internship, I was considering working in UX design which incorporates the same principles I applied at my internship. The experience I have gained has helped me to solidify this field as the one I wish to work in during my professional career.