About us

Our Story


At The University of Vermont Medical Group board retreat in early 2015, the seed for hiCOlab was planted when the Medical Group President and CEO, Claude Deschamps, MD, shared two goals he envisioned for the future of the organization, one of which was to create the “crazy arm” of innovation. Recognizing that innovation was already occurring in various pockets throughout the organization, and not wanting to replace those efforts, he desired a physical space with devoted resources that could be focused exclusively on improving healthcare services.

How might we promote and build better relationships between patients, their caregivers, and providers?

One of our important first actions was to invite a diverse group of people to help us define areas of focus where we could truly improve and contribute to our community of health seekers and healthcare providers inside and outside the UVM Health Network. We organized four community workshops — one with students at a local high school, three with patients, caregivers, providers, and health professionals — with the express goal of learning about the unmet needs of our colleagues, neighbors, and family members as they currently interact with the healthcare system. Through a series of co-creative exercises and lively small-group discussions, workshop participants created pictures of what “healthy” looks like to them, shared stories of their interactions with the healthcare system, and then brainstormed and prototyped ideas for improving some aspect of the healthcare experience.

The outcomes from these four workshops were incredibly rich and creative, fueled by passion, some frustration, and belief that people working together can have positively transform healthcare. Afterward, we immersed ourselves in all of this data, and synthesized it into five areas of focus for our innovation work:

  • The environment affects my health and determines how effective my care is.

  • I need to feel connected with myself and others, including my care providers.

  • I need stress-free health care that reduces my fear and anxiety.

  • I need to feel in control of my life and the important decisions that affect me.

  • My time is sacred.

These five themes and the nuanced stories from which they emerged gave us ample material to generate a number of opportunities for innovation, which we expressed in the form of “how might we” statements. Working with a small group of trusted advisors, we identified the following opportunities to pursue as we prototyped our fledgling innovation lab:

How might we created individualized and convenient healthcare delivery experiences?

How might we successfully establish and manage expectations before, during, and after care?

How might we promote and build better relationships between patients, their caregivers, and providers?

How might we expand opportunities for people to connect with each other in support of better health?

The areas of focus and HMW statements gave us a direction to move in as we continue to expand our research and invite other collaborators to partner with us.