Health topic: Primary Care Person centred Community Connections Intersectoral Human Centred Design

Inform action with lived experience

Understanding lived experience

What impact will actions have if you start with empathy? 

Why do we care about what people think? 

Community teams sought strategies on how to understand lived experience. They acknowledged that many came from a place of privilege and position. Without a deeper understanding of what people and families in the community experiencing financial strain go through, the teams would be guessing on what could be a groundbreaking solution in fulfilling their needs. The diverse community teams started by learning from each other and their experiences. This was one source of inspiration and understanding. They also talked with people with financial strain, amplifying their voices in different ways and sharing what they heard. Some of the ways they did this was inspired by human-centered design workshops and collaborative sessions with the Design Lab. Here are the top ways that community teams brought the voices of people with financial strain to the planning process.

Empathy Mapping

Developing and consulting an empathy map helps teams to consider the many perspectives and forces around your target community population (users of your solution) that affect their experiences.


Personas can be a better way to understand what groups of people need and also serve as a reference of what is important to them throughout the project. In some cases, they transformed a conversation with a person with financial strain into a persona (identifiers removed). One community team developed a persona based on their collective conversations with people living with financial strain.

Journey Mapping

Mapping out the journey of an individual with financial strain was a powerful way to look at the real experiences, emotions, and pain-points which were used to identify some ‘how might we might help’ solutions. Community teams found that their journey maps really opened their eyes to the realities and barriers that were getting in the way at both the personal level and system level.


Sharing Stories

Storytellers shared personal stories of how they experienced the impact of financial strain as a care provider or patient (and sometimes both!). Through the stories, everyone learned valuable lessons about how communities can work together to support each other. The meaningful discussions were stimulated by the stories over the course of the project. Many of these stories are now in digital form and now available for all to listen and start team conversations. 




  1. Board of Innovation. Persona. Published 2022. Accessed April 18, 2022.
  2. Tamarack Institute. Tool: Using Personas in The Design Of Community Engagement. Personas for CE.pdf?hsCtaTracking=d1e9600a-0b88-4fcf-ada5-7d24116553a0%7Ce4129e15-bbee-43b2-92cb-6e0c3494f307. Published 2017. Accessed April 18, 2022.
  3. Lau K. Personas and User Journeys in Health. UX Planet. Published 2018. Accessed April 18, 2022.
  4. Babich N. A Beginner’s Guide To User Journey Mapping. UX Planet. Published 2019. Accessed April 18, 2022.
  5. Tamarack Institute. Tool: The Empathy Map. Map Tool May 2017.pdf?hsCtaTracking=03c80055-ee80-42d8-9651-dc1b499ac841%7Ca0e5bc50-4657-4920-8836-e74453482965. Published 2017. Accessed April 19, 2022.
  6. Edmonton Shift Lab. Empathy Map. Published 2019. Accessed April 18, 2022.
  7. Tamarack Institute. Human Centred Design, Design Thinking, and Community Change. Published 2018. Accessed April 18, 2022.
  8. AHS Design Lab. Virtual Health + Care Design School - Week 2: Starting With Empathy. Published 2019. Accessed April 18, 2022.
  9. RSA. Brené Brown on Empathy. Published 2013. Accessed April 13, 2022.

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