Using design thinking to help improve patient experience through the Universal Patient Language (UPL)

Elizabeth Turcotte Elizabeth.turcotte@bms.com
Susan Bartlett susanb@bridgeable.com
Carly Vanderlee carlyv@bridgeable.com

Abstract

The Universal Patient Language (UPL) is a Bristol-Myers Squibb organizational capability and set of resources that seeks to enable better patient-facing communications. The UPL came out of the realization that the pharmaceutical industry was changing to be more patient-centric. While Bristol-Myers Squibb has a long-standing history of engaging with patients, it needed a transformative approach to patient engagement that moved beyond the industry’s traditional approach, towards design-driven methods that engage patients in new ways. BMS worked with Bridgeable to create a patient experience strategy rooted in human-centered design. The UPL was the output of this design-thinking approach to patient experience that combines co-creation with end users, prototyping and iteration based on user feedback, a systems thinking lens, and best practices in visual design. Since 2015, UPL has been applied to 20+ internal design projects. The output of those projects has been incorporated into patient-facing materials from brochures to websites and call centers, while the generalizable learnings about patient communications have been incorporated back into the UPL. In this way, the UPL becomes more robust with each new project. Because of the success of UPL internally, BMS decided to publicly share the principles and tools on the website. The site is tailored to help people apply the UPL in their own patient communications, whether they work at advocacy organizations, hospitals, or other pharmaceutical companies. The long-term aspiration is to see the UPL widely adopted by anyone who creates patient communications. This presentation will tell the story of how BMS and Bridgeable built the UPL by co-designing with patients, and how it is being shared as an open-source capability.
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