Cypress Health Partners Patient Referral Redesign

Design Challenge: How might we create a standardized patient referral system for a large health care company? 

Duration: 8 weeks

Role: Lead Researcher and Strategist

Project Overview: 
I was hired as a contract design researcher to help Cypress Health Partners do an overhaul on their patient referral system. I developed a research plan, conducted user interviews, and created a set of recomendations based on my findings. 

Tools: Survey Monkey, Mural, Excel


The Problem

Bay State Physical Therapy (BSPT) is a regional brand of Cypress Health Partners. BSPT had been using a rewards system to incentivize existing patients to refer their friends to BSPT clinics. Very few patients responded to the incentive structure, and few people followed through to refer their friends. BSPT needed to understand why their existing system was not working and develop a new system that worked.


Original Objective
The original  project brief was super narrow in scope. After taking on the project, I did a quick check in with some of the key stakeholders and realized that it would be beneficial to take a more open ended approach to the project. 

Updated Objective


Research Questions

  • How are patients currently finding BSPT?
  • Do patients often refer friends and family to different types of services?
    • If so, how and why?
  • Are referrals already happening to BSPT without being tracked?
    • What would a good tracking system look like?
  • What would make patients more likely to refer someone to BSPT?
  • What different approaches to word of mouth marketing are already happening at BSPT clinics?
  • How could different BSPT employees promote word of mouth marketing?





I transcribed the interviews onto sticky notes, then sorted them according to theme. This allowed me to see the recurring patterns through out my conversations. I distilled these patterns into research findings. 

Research Findings


BSPT should continue to strive towards providing excellent care, while also focusing more on developing strong relationships with patients.

When patients provide positive feedback, BSPT clinicians should use that as an opportunity to ask directly for referrals. Language should revolve around BSPT’s core focus: providing great care to help people feel better. 

The referral program should center around direct asks for referrals from clinicians, but can be complimented by digital reminders, referral cards to pass to friends, or signage in waiting rooms acting as reminders. 

The executive leadership team should develop a clear, simple, consistent approach to educating its staff in the new approach to requesting, reminding and processing referrals.