top of page


The Design and Innovation Group (DIG) at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center tasked us to conduct research and design strategies around alleviating financial and emotional pain points of cancer patients and caregivers


Alyssa Kropp -

Holly Cargill -

Contribution - Ethnographic Research, Mapping, Design Strategy, User Testing


Over the 10 weeks, the team did research that included desk research, mapping, conducted 31 interviews around the hospital, shadowed 7 clinical rotations, and facilitated a midterm co-creation workshop.

The direct quotes from staff explore the larger themes we found at the hospital in regards to finance. The perspectives of experts and staff members gave us a broader understanding of the topic as we dove in, and allowed us to see into the work that is already being done in the field and outside of the hospital, both here in the US and internationally.

Artboard 1.png

Dr Peter Ubel

Physician and Behavioral Scientist

Duke University

Artboard 1 copy.png

Susan Hirschman

Certified Financial Planner

Morgan Stanley

Artboard 1 copy 2.png

Fiona Gillies

Director of the Royal Melbourne Hospital Foundation

"it happens to almost everyone"


This matrix shows the patients that we interviewed during our time at MSK. We interviewed a range of patients from varied socio-economic backgrounds.


Due to the nature of the money taboo, none of our patients were explicit in telling us their exact financial situation. We chose to use self-representation as a way to place the patients on the matrix.


Each journey is unique and we have clear outliers. This caregiver (bottom yellow line) started in a financially secure place.

These journeys have many contributing factors that cause the rise and fall of the graph. It is important to note that costs can stay high after treatment is over. Particularly for those who have complications, change in job status or other long-lasting symptoms.


Stakeholder Personas

Persona - Ida.jpg
Persona - Craig.jpg
Persona - Elizabeth.jpg
Persona - Sabrina.jpg
Persona - Lee.jpg


Patients find it difficult to access MSK's support services

MSK has a variety of services but patients may not use them due to a lack of awareness + understanding, lack of insurance coverage (integrative medicine), and slow processing time

How might we encourage earlier adoption of financial planning for patients or caregivers?

Patients want financial information to come from their clinical teams

Patients trust their doctors and nurses. They want information from their already very busy clinical team but the teams don’t have the time or know-how to advise their patients

How might we incorporate a financial discussion into the agenda of MSK clinical teams without disrupting their busy schedule?

MSK needs to help foster patient's participation

Services are available, but patients and caregivers need to take some initiative

How might we bring financial conversation to the fore?

Financial toxicity is an unavoidable side effect of cancer

The financial challenge of cancer impacts nearly everyone. By being the ones to initiate the discussion of money throughout the journey, MSK can break the taboo

How might we help patients and caregivers maintain a sense of normalcy within their financial means?


bottom of page