Nearly a decade ago I co-founded a non-profit organization called Medic Mobile; we make open source software for healthcare in hard-to-reach communities. The organization has grown to nearly a hundred designers, engineers, and global health practitioners, and the Community Health Toolkit we built now supports around a million health services every month. In 2017 I completed PhD studies in human-centered design and organizational ethnography, with support from a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. I now lead Medic Mobile’s research efforts, which has meant continuing my own human-centered design research and engaging a wider research network that spans the fields of global health, computer science, design, and the social sciences. Our work emphasizes themes of digital health and health equity, open source/open science, community health, implementation research, human-centered data science, and precision global health. After several years of many wanders I’m now based in Seattle, where I enjoy being part of a vibrant global health and tech community, and being closer to my great big outdoorsy family. For more context on our work, follow Medic on Twitter, take a look at our 2018 annual report, or check out the Medic Mobile feature in the BBC’s Disruptors series.
A little more background
As a Medic Mobile co-founder, I spent more than three years living out of a suitcase, traveling across Malawi and Kenya to design and implement a series of digital health initiatives that would establish the value of interactive text messaging for care coordination in community health programs. True to the experience of many entrepreneurial startups, I served in many roles in the early years. I became particularly absorbed with designing first versions of the Medic toolkit, embedding a philosophy of accompaniment in our implementation partnerships, and establishing human-centered design as an organization-wide competency. I was named mHealth innovator of the year in 2011, awarded Echoing Green, Compton and Pamplin fellowships, and inducted into the Better World By Design hall of fame.
After several incredible, deeply challenging and hopeful years co-leading the organization with my friend Josh Nesbit, I decided to pursue further studies. I hoped to address Medic Mobile’s growing research needs, and also to satisfy my appetite for books and writing. I began graduate studies in 2012, first with a Master of Philosophy degree in sociology, and later in a multidisciplinary innovation studies and organizational ethnography doctoral program at the Cambridge Judge Business School. With the support of a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, I completed my PhD in 2017, with a thesis titled Sensemaking and Human-Centered Design: A Practice Perspective. I worked with a remarkable supervisory committee in professors Michael Barrett, Mark de Rond and Jennifer Howard-Grenville.
I’m now based in Seattle, and I continue to conduct fieldwork and contribute to Medic’s design practice and implementation partnerships around the world. I publish in health journals (e.g. Journal of Global Health, JMIR) as well as computing journals and conferences (e.g. Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Computing and Sustainable Societies/COMPASS). My work is available on the Research & Impact Reports page of the Medic Mobile website, on my Google Scholar profile, and in my Curriculum Vitae.