Action Design, the CFPB, and producing financial health for people

As it was relayed to me by another attendee, Action Design DC (@actiondesignDC) is the prototype for the high engagement meetup group. It’s got close to 1,000 members. We, in the gallery, postulated that this is because it has achieved that just-right intersection of a topic that is cross-discipline, cross-industry, with opportunities to learn from the superstar people and organizations who are doing great things in the field, in this, America’s most social city.

From the brand new Action Design DC website, action design as defined as:

build(ing) products that are effective at helping people take action and change their own behavior. A product designed with action design in mind might help its users accomplish goals that they haven’t been able to achieve before…

I come to this conversation looking for analogies to health and health care, and of course I find dozens, every 10 minutes…

As last week’s event, our presenters were Peter Jackson, Director of the Office of Consumer Engagement (photo – CFPB has a flickr stream, hooray!), and Margaret (Maggie) Anderson (blog posts on cfpb website), from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (@CFPB) who spoke about the design of what I would call “healthy choice architecture” for people buying homes. As you’ll see in the slide deck and video below, the prototype for health was described by Peter as a scene from the Golden Girls, with people sitting down (or walking…) at their kitchen table, making informed choices about their finances together.

Peter told the information asymmetry story for buying a home, which is the moment when a person is signing the stack of documents with the keys to their dwelling sitting on the other side of the table from them.

I was thinking:

  • do these stories happen in health care? (they do)
  • don’t we want a better approach like this for health care, too? (we do)
  • is this approach happening anywhere in health care? (yes)
  • does the CFPB’s work support overall health, not just financial health? (yes)

The “where this is happening” is over at Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, where our consumerista, Lygeia Ricciardi (@lygeia) is supporting access to machine and human readable versions of a person’s health record, also known as….. blue button

Both of these are examples of smart disclosure, which I have written about here previously: Now Reading: Smart Disclosure, Behavior Change, The Green Button | Ted Eytan, MD. By itself, the formatting of data is not enough, it’s the design of the use of the data that matters, and you’ll see in the video below that CFPB has partnered with IDEO to create user stories around people using data effectively to make healthy decisions. And of course, there’s yet another analogy to health care, as the Kaiser Permanente Innovation Consultancy (@kpinnovation) and Innovation Learning Network (@healthcareILN) brings IDEO experience in all of its human-centered design goodness in health care.

Given that the Innovation Learning Network’s next in person meeting will be in Washington, DC in May, 2014, I think it’s worth a visit for that group to see action design in action in financial services…:)

Thanks to Steve Wendel (@sawendel) and the Action Design DC (@actiondesigndc) team for creating connections between science and practice in behavior change and between its practitioners in our nation’s capital. We’re all in a place where we believe that everything is possible, because it is.

CFPB’s Peter Jackson on Complex User Decisions Like Mortgages from Stephen Wendel

CFPB’s Peter Jackson on Complex User Decisions Like Mortgages from Stephen Wendel

Action Design DC: 14 Jan 2014 Peter Jackson, CFPB Speaks on Mortgages and Complex User Decisions from HelloWallet on Vimeo.


Ted Eytan, MD