Exploring the Pediatric Urgent Care Experience with Ethnography


Pediatric Urgent Care Immersion

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital (NCH) continually seeks to expand service offerings that align with the needs of the communities they serve and that are aligned with the business goals of the system. In this case, the system understood the importance of the urgent care setting as an important point of access for parents and wanted to align their offering to meet the needs of the parent/customer while positioning NCH as the preferred destination for urgent care services across a three-county service area.

Strategic Foundation

  • Design Thinking
  • Ethnography
  • Strategic Co-Creation & Design

Deliverables & Tactics

  • Ethnographic Research Study
  • Documentary Filmmaking
  • Stakeholder Maps (Journey & Expectation)
  • Strategic Marketing Roadmap

LIFT was retained by NCH to conduct an ethnographic study of the urgent care experience. Specifically, LIFT was asked to observe and document the experience of three user groups using NCH Urgent Care facilities: the care staff; the parent (customer); and the patients.


The objective of this engagement was to gain a deeper understanding of the user experiences at ground level and then to leverage learning to articulate strategies—specifically messaging (pre-care advertising, on-site, and discharge)—and programming—such as on-site experience design—that are aligned to business KPIs as well as the needs of the parents and families.

  • To understand the reasons “why” parents choose urgent care and specifically NCH urgent care facilities
  • To illuminate and map the urgent care journey from the perspective of both the parent and the care delivery team

  • To identify the various relationships at play during the urgent care experience

  • To identify the moments of truth that bring the urgent care experience to life

  • Stakeholder Outreach and Engagement (Site Recruitment) 
  • Patient Education and Activation 
  • Ethnographic research and design thinking partnership

The biggest challenge for NCH was a lack of understanding around local emotional and cultural drivers of customer behavior. Knowing that the urgent care service offering is an important component to care delivery and revenue for the NCH system, this challenge necessitated an important tactical priority—to clearly and deeply understand the urgent care journey—that management knew would illuminate the drivers of a more competitive urgent care offering.


LIFT worked closely with the NCH team to plan and implement a series of on-site ethnographic immersions—observing and interviewing parents, clinical staff, business staff, and the families of parents. We also spent time with targeted parents in their lived environment (homes and domains of daily living) to gain greater clarity around the lived experience.


LIFT was able to craft an exhaustive list of marketing, communications, education, and experience concepts and tactics that the NCH executive management is leveraging into their business and clinical strategies. Deliverables included comprehensive journey maps, multiple personas, expectation maps, and an exhaustive report that illuminated multiple aspects of the urgent care experience and the human realities embedded in the experience on both sides of the transaction.