User Stories

User Story: Using Visuals To Tell Consistent Stories In Healthcare

The traditional healthcare system has seen a lot of change in the past little while. This has to do with the shift to a more consumer-focused approach as many people are educating themselves online and also seeking alternative services and technologies. This shift is calling for a lot more innovation in healthcare, with expectations to defer from the old way of doing things becoming a lot more frequent.

Right to Left: Melissa, her colleague Lorraine, and family mentor Andrea working at Holland Bloorview.

Melissa Ngo, one of our passionate users, is one healthcare worker that is riding the wave of disruption. As a Family Support Specialist at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto, Canada – Melissa’s work is dedicated to creating resources for families with children that have disabilities. Melissa is ardently committed to the space and has also co-founded a grassroots non-profit called Hand Over Hand – which helps create safe and accessible spaces.

The Importance of Information Accessibility in Healthcare

Besides her work, Melissa is also personally invested in helping those with disabilities as the issue hits quite close to home.

“In healthcare, I think we can do better at sharing and learning information in an accessible way. There are all sorts of barriers that we face, and I experience that not only as someone who works in healthcare, but also as a family member of someone who identifies as having a disability.”

Melissa is of the opinion that health equity and literacy are areas that should be explored in a variety of ways, and that “visual communication is something that can help information be understood quicker and easier by diverse populations.”

Using Visual Communication To Inspire Change

Armed with this thought to use visual communication to change the way things are traditionally done at work, Melissa was quick to get behind one family leader, Susan Cosgrove, and her idea to use infographics to share her family’s story. The idea was the catalyst to the workshop, called “The Power of Storytelling Through Pictures: Using Infographics As a Tool,” that Susan was able to bring to families.

The workshop, which had content co-developed by Susan and Holland’s knowledge translation team (Christine Provvidenza, Joanne Wincentak, and Ashleigh Townley) included a step-by-step tutorial on how to use Piktochart, a hands on session with families to help them develop infographics, and it also included a health literacy component.

Below is Susan’s infographic of her daughter Kaya
The best part about visual communication, said Melissa, is that it helps tell stories in a consistent way – which is something essential to families with disabilities as they have to tell their child’s story over and over again to teachers, clinicians, community providers and the like.

She said that it can be time-consuming, cumbersome, and there are often times difficult bits of information that need to be discussed. This is where visual storytelling can really come into play.

Infographics Makes The Storytelling Experience More Human

“Infographics allows families to be advocates and we are empowered through this process. We are able to reclaim our stories and tell them ourselves, instead of someone else telling our story for us. Often when a teacher or clinician has to find out about a family’s “story” – it is in a diagnosis report or a clinical report,” said Melissa.

“Families and people with disabilities can use infographics to talk about ourselves in the way that we want to – which might be more humanistic, less medical, and in the way in which we choose. We can share information that is important to us.”

Besides supporting the workshop at Bloorview, Melissa has also used visuals to distill key information down from Hand Over Hand’s social group program. It’s been useful to show things like “how it works” and “what they offer” in a visual way.

Below is an example of one of the infographics created by the Hand over Hand team.

“It’s helpful for people who simply learn visually, for our volunteers to understand the process our members go through in order to join in, for parents who come to our organization who might speak English as a second language, and our members with disabilities who may need visuals to understand pieces of information,” she said.

Ultimately, Melissa sees Piktochart as an incredible storytelling tool for families and for people who identify as having a disability, and it is also a useful tool for healthcare workers to communicate to diverse groups of people.

She gives advice to those that are thinking about using visuals in healthcare:

“The general rules that I have used to guide me are: What do I want to communicate, why do I want to share that, who do I want my audience to be, and how am I going to explain it visually.”

Melissa’s story really resonates with our latest rebranding efforts, where we strive to make deeper, more human connections with Piktochart and help our users Picture the Difference. Read about that in our latest blog post here.

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