Simplifying Complex Programs Into Digestible Communication Assets

Offering clarity of available benefits to Service Members integrating into civilian life

Case Study

How might we simplify onboarding information for clinic managers to align on roles and responsibilities seamlessly?

The Defense Health Agency, originally stood up on October 1, 2013, serves as the nation’s military medical combat support agency. It is an integrated organization that enables necessary services to provide a ready medical force to combatant commands in both peacetime and war. The DHA is responsible for maintaining a global network of military and civilian medical professionals across 450 military hospitals and clinics, providing healthcare to over 9 million active-duty service members, retirees, reservists, and their families. Up until 2017, each branch of service was responsible for maintaining their own process and ensuring the medical readiness of its service members, their families, and both military and civilian medical professionals. This separation of services resulted in a severe lack of standardization across services, increased redundancy and duplication, and a lack of overall proficiency. It was not until the Defense Authorization Act of 2017 (NDAA 2017) that the DHA was directed to consolidate all U.S. military medical treatment facilities for all branches of service under a single organization within the Department of Defense. 

MO Studio was engaged by a fellow SDVOSB company (SERVE Advisory) to support product delivery to Commander Wilson (Navy O6 / Commander). He was responsible for end user engagement in DHA’s transformation of the electronic health records system: a multi-billion dollar, multi-year rollout of CERNER EHRM across DHA. The need—which came fast and without warning—included both strategic communications and visual design to simplify this complex rollout into digestible content to quickly onboard hospital and outpatient clinic general managers with their role and responsibilities in their respective region. The Commander had a vision for world-class design and given the complexity and competing demands (e.g., COVID-19) for his DHA partner’s time, he had to deliver beautiful design artifacts that were most importantly simple. Given this constraint, MO Studio turned to their go-to-market partner: Braintrust. Braintrust jumped into action, identifying the right visual designer to help MO in its efforts to support DHA. 

Challenge and Goals: 

  • Deployment is a 3-year process that users undergo at different times due to system and network constraints. Deployment needed to be segmented into 23 different waves, while we worked iteratively to refine the process and roadmap resulting in users not receiving the same quality of deployment support. 
  • Designing a solution that supports a great deal of customization to meet the needs of 150+ locations in the United States, as well as international customers. 
  • Needed to design assets that empower varying customer groups to effectively communicate a complex multi-year transformation to different levels of military health leadership.
  • There is a vast number of activities users need to complete to have a successful deployment.

Process and Solution: The MO Studio team joined the project in-flight at a critical time. Having little time and scarce resources, we quickly onboarded a visual designer from Braintrust and integrated him into our product delivery framework. Leveraging human-centered design, thorough research, meaningful conversations, and rapid prototyping, we unpacked the Commander’s goals and objectives. We worked dynamically to accommodate the commander’s busy schedule and provided various different design directions to quickly meet his vision. As we gained a better understanding of the program and problem, we iteratively created visual assets and presented them for multiple rounds of feedback. Our team created visual assets that empowered our customer to effectively communicate a complex multi-year transformation to different levels of military health leadership.

Limited Resources: MO Studio was a second-tier subcontractor on the project. Our prime provided little to no support in solving the problem so we had to be extremely dynamic. We bridged the gap of the original design team brought on to the project who could not meet the demands of the commander. We aggressively collaborated with everyone to facilitate a data dump to quickly orient ourselves with the problem, process, and organization. MO Studio tapped into Braintrust to bring a visual designer on to our small team of experts and worked through all the stages of teaming swiftly to deliver beautiful visual design artifacts that were the most important design: simple. 

We delved into understanding the complexities of the 18-month transformation and worked dynamically to uncover the unmet needs of the Commander, users, and stakeholders. We identified the need for both strategic communications and visual design. Leveraging Human Centered Design and an iterative design process, we conducted multiple condensed cycles in a short period of time to deliver not only beautiful visual design artifacts, but a comprehensive roadmap that can be used as a playbook for over 150 commanders across military health systems. This roadmap enabled users to visualize the entire process through icons and descriptive methodologies that detailed the milestones and what to expect when embarking on this transformation. In addition, we facilitated the logistics of printing the roadmaps on time and on budget so that every commander overseeing this transformation could have a physical asset to reference throughout the entire process. The impact of the roadmap was so well received that commanders who had not yet started the transformation were reaching out to commanders who had already started to get a copy of the roadmap so they could visualize what to expect for the next 18 months. MO Studio also provided guidance on next steps. We taught the customer to treat the first time as an experiment and how to iteratively design and develop to create a lasting impact. The roadmap has since been revised and evolved to support additional needs for governance, middle management, and chief medical information officers.

“They are beautiful! Thank you so much for your hard work and skill in creating it. Getting ready to take them to San Antonio today. So excited!” -Customer