A Night With Stacey Chang: Why New Modes of Care Require New Delivery Systems

“To envision a better future based on the needs of humans.”

—Stacey Chang

Last week the Notley Fellows team had the pleasure of meeting with Stacey Chang, the Executive Director of the Design Institute for Health. Chang has a B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT and Stanford. He began his career at IDEO, a design innovation firm, as the Managing Director of the Healthcare Practice.

As a cofounder of the Design Institute for Health, a collaboration between Dell Medical School and the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin, Chang spends his time reimagining our healthcare system in his own living laboratory for healthcare design and delivery.

Staged in the historical Moreland House on 1301 East Cesar Chavez, the Notley Fellows engaged in an energetic conversation with Stacey Chang led by Dan Graham, cofounder of Notley.

Read our top 3 takeaways on how the healthcare system is changing for the better.

1. Slash Inefficiencies Even If(And Especially If) They’re the Status Quo

Chang’s work focuses on designing new hospitals and clinics to fit the needs of patients and staff by expanding the quality of life for both. And by quality of life, he means totally doing away any and all inefficiencies. Consider the waiting room. Hospital waiting rooms corral patients in a tight space with other sick patients, all forced to watch bad TV (think Jerry Springer). Staff are overburdened with health emergencies and unable to turn people away. This situation is full of inefficient behavior.


Chang and his team decided to do something drastic and bold. They removed the waiting room entirely and by doing so, were able to reroute patients to the right practitioners versus letting them wait for something that was not truly an emergency. Now there are practically no wait times and both patients and doctors get notified at the appointment time. Meanwhile, if patients do arrive early, they have a beautiful cafe and courtyard to explore.

2. Knowledgeable Teams Matter More Than Specialized Individuals

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Stacey also shared how his work at the Design Institute for Health is redefining not only when you see your doctor, but who you see. Oftentimes patients don’t require specialty (or price tag) associated with a highly trained doctor. In Chang’s words, “Teams matter more than doctors.”

With this mind-shift in practice, patients see nurses and teams of healthcare service providers much more than they see their doctor. It also impacts the doctors, who are typically paid much more if their schedule is full. As a result, Dell Medical has chosen to hire doctors that care more about the quality vs. the quantity of care.

3. Austin is the Hotbed for Groundbreaking Healthcare

Chang ended out the talk sharing bold statements about Austin’s healthcare landscape. “We’re not stuck in the old model,” he said. This old model follows the common ‘fee for service’ structure that the U.S. healthcare system has been built on. Austin is not beholden to that. As the first city in 50 years to get a new medical school, Austin has been away to build a new model - one that is actively testing from new healthcare modalities and delivery systems. One that cares about the quantitative outcomes of care (e.g. reduction in Type II diabetes) as the qualitative, patient-reported outcomes (e.g. did a patient get to pick up their kid after their knee surgery).

They’re figuring out what the community needs in its healthcare and on a mission to experiment and test until they figure out what works best.

Chang’s commitment to “fixing the core functions of the healthcare system” is coming to life at Dell Medical and the Design Institute for Health. He and his team have unlocked what it means to treat health as a community.

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Thank you to Stacey Chang for joining us and to The Peached Tortilla for fueling the night’s conversation. Stay tuned for the next featured Fellows’ dinner guest next month - Gerardo Interiano, Head of Local Market Staffing at Google.