Blending Art with Healthcare: Meet Carbon Health’s Talented Design Team

Carbon Health Editorial Team
October 14, 2021
10 mins

“Creativity takes courage.” — Henri Matisse

At Carbon Health, we’re always coming up with innovative new ways to improve healthcare and the patient experience. One group that is constantly experimenting and breathing life into our physical spaces, our website, and our mobile app is our team of designers. Not only are they charged with taking complex or abstract concepts and turning them into functional (and beautiful) images, objects, signs, physical spaces, printed material, web pages, apps, digital tools, and much more — they also honor and celebrate the diverse populations we aim to serve.

We recently sat down with six of our designers, who all help us advance in our mission to deliver great healthcare to everyone — every single day. 

Read on to learn more about these visionaries and why they are such an integral part of our patient and provider experience.

And, as always, we thank all our designers for all they do!

Bobby Genalo, Principal Designer

Carbon Health Editors: What drew you to a career in design?

Bobby Genalo: I was deeply inspired by Rube Goldberg illustrations as a kid. Here was someone, I thought, who could not only imply function through form, but also do so in a charming, accessible manner. I slowly discovered that my love of drawing could also translate into a communication vehicle for others to understand complex concepts.

CHE: Why did you decide to join Carbon Health?

BG: I joined Carbon Health to move fast and help others. Having Eren Bali and Caesar Djavaherian at the helm of the ship ensures that our contributions to society are not only rooted in kindness, but also scalable, to everyone. Many healthcare organizations choose not to invest in their own ability to transform lives through technology, shifting the responsibility (and risk) to third-party companies. By authoring the systems our staff use to care for others, we’re optimized for tight, self-healing feedback loops.

CHE: What keeps you going? Who inspires you?

BG: I’m inspired by healthcare workers during a pandemic, firefighters during a wildfire, and community organizers during a climate emergency. I’m a big sucker for hope and resiliency.

CHE: What’s some advice you’ve taken with you over the course of your career?

BG: Being humble about what you know and don’t know is foundational to solving someone else’s problems. Developing a simple plan to share your mental model with others and inviting criticism is design research, the most useful tool in a designer’s tool belt to know they’re solving the right problem for the right audience.

CHE: How has living through a global pandemic changed your design approach?

BG: Since the pandemic began I’ve learned to worry less about polished UI and have focused more on ensuring that our understanding of a problem is grounded in reality and that whatever solution we run with is “ergonomically suited” to the people forced to engage with it. Choosing “good enough” over “perfect” is how I’m able to function as a high-throughput designer without burning out.

CHE: Tell us about a project that helped move the company’s COVID-19 initiatives forward. 

BG: I’m proud of contributing to the Carbon Health “COVID Travel Itinerary,” a tool with which anyone in the U.S. can plug in their departure and arrival locations and receive a personalized itinerary with programmatic clinical guidance from Carbon Health’s army of providers. From napkin sketch to production code, a scrappy team of about five people delivered something innovative, useful, and brand-building within six weeks — and just in time for Thanksgiving 2020.

Mel Haasch, Senior Brand Designer

Photograph by Jonathan Nunez

Carbon Health Editors: Have you always had an interest in design?

Mel Haasch: Most of my family are craftsmen, engineers, or makers in some sort of way; I was the odd one of the bunch by having been born with an interest in the arts and abstract expression. Given those contexts, design was a perfect marriage of the two. 

CHE: What makes Carbon Health special, or why did you join Carbon Health?

MH: Carbon Health has built a great foundation for the core of its identity, and now is a huge opportunity to help shape that, which is really where I wanted to grow in my career. At the same time, I was incredibly inspired by the scope of work Carbon Health had been doing during the COVID-19 crisis here in Los Angeles, and that commitment to the public good resonated with my own values.

CHE: What projects excite you the most here at Carbon Health? 

MH: There are so many! I’m really looking forward to building and shaping a lot of the foundation work that we need to do with our brand — whether that be guidelines, campaigns, social, or more. 

CHE: What inspires your work?

MH: I look toward everyday life, especially interactions with people and architectural spaces. I love understanding how others see and use design, and am often fascinated by ways that design shows up in the vernacular — such as street signage, handmade objects, DIY architecture, internet memes, and children’s art.

CHE: What has surprised you the most about people during COVID-19?  

MH: I’m seeing a lot more recognition of collective power and awareness of collective health, rather than solely focusing on the individual. Many folks have recognized that local and community organization can often be more sustainable and effective than relying solely on traditional institutions and hierarchies.

CHE: On paper, art and healthcare might seem the furthest two things from each other, yet your team has been able to blend the two worlds beautifully. How do you think art influences healthcare?

MH: Healthcare is an inherently emotional experience, much like viewing and experiencing art. Everyone carries their own contexts and reactions to the visual things they see, much like the quality of care they receive. Both ideas are really linked by these abstract, intangible qualities, and within that there’s a lot to explore and play with, with a visual palette.

Tina Li, Product Designer

Carbon Health Editors: Have you always been creative? 

Tina Li: When I was young, I learned how to paint and draw by watching Bob Ross on TV. What started out as a hobby grew into a passion, and I eventually went to design school. In my opinion, one of the best things about the design world is that it's constantly evolving and redefining itself. I’m always learning new tools and techniques, and every day brings new challenges and design problems to solve. It’s exciting to see a constant stream of new requirements and projects — it makes for an interesting and stimulating career.

CHE: Why did you decide to join Carbon Health?

TL: I’ve always had an interest in the healthcare space. Carbon Health stood out to me because of its mission to provide high-quality and accessible healthcare for all. I also really admired the holistic experience from the patient app to the clinics, and I wanted to be a part of the journey of crafting that user experience. As a Carbonaut, I enjoy the complexities of healthcare, and that challenges me to think outside the box when coming up with design solutions.

CHE: What are you currently working on for Carbon Health?

TL: I'm currently designing the new billing dashboard for the revenue cycle management (RCM) team. The RCM team assists with a number of challenging administrative tasks, including accurate medical coding, billing, claim editing and tracking, reporting, and payment posting. From the UX workshops, we discovered that there is a mismatch between the user’s mental model and the functionality of the current billing dashboard. The goal is to redesign and build a new billing dashboard that is tailored to their workflow. So far, it’s been a great experience working with the product and engineering teams, as well as folks from the RCM team.

CHE: What inspires your work?

TL: I take a lot of inspiration from my travels; architecture; online communities such as Pinterest, Dribbble, and UX Collective; and my fellow design team at Carbon Health!

CHE: How do you approach a project?  

TL: I always start my process with understanding the problem and the users. It’s important to assess whether there is a strong need for the product before beginning the design and development process. My go-to design research methods are user journey maps, user interviews, and market research. Once I’ve collected the data from user research, I synthesize the findings by grouping them into common themes. Then, I generate insights from the data and use them inform design decisions. The next phase is ideation, and this is where I create wireframes and mockups. It’s not uncommon for me to go through four to five different iterations of the designs. Next, I review my designs with users to get their feedback before anything gets built or shipped. This allows me to identify usability issues before I invest more time in developing the solution.

Ryan Putnam, Creative Director 

Carbon Health Editors: When did you realize you could make a career out of being a designer? 

Ryan Putnam: I’ve been making art and drawing my whole life. In high school, I focused on fine art, but when I got to college I was worried about not having a reliable career, so I focused on graphic design.

CHE: What drew you to applying for a role at Carbon Health?

RP: I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2018. During my diagnosis and continued health journey, I have been constantly confused, frustrated, and scared. I want to put my efforts into making everyone’s healthcare experience a positive one. 

CHE: How has working in healthcare during a global crisis changed your design approach?

RP: Working in healthcare, in general, has really pushed me to be more thoughtful about how design and art can affect people and the need to do better testing and research to validate my opinions and decisions.

CHE: What inspires your work?

RP: My personal work is influenced by abstraction and entropy, but my work at Carbon Health is influenced by the relationships between providers and patients. I am constantly thinking of this relationship in all the different collateral and experiences we create and how they can be represented in all of Carbon Health's products and services.

CHE: How do you keep the creative juices flowing when you’re not at work?

RP: I am most proud of my personal creative practice. I do a lot of ceramics, painting, printmaking, zine-making, sound art, and other artistic endeavors. This continued exploration of mediums and themes is something I cherish.

CHE: What has surprised you about people in a positive way working for a healthcare company  during COVID-19?

RP: I think people are genuinely good. There are bad ones out there, and they are generally pretty loud, but under that noise, there are folks that care about each other.

Hannah Swann, Senior Brand Designer

Carbon Health Editors: When did you first realize you had a knack for design?

Hannah Swann: From the time I was little, I always knew I wanted to do something “creative” when I was older. What drew me to the design industry are those same qualities that keep me interested today — the necessity for blending both EQ and IQ. It’s a field that requires a tremendous amount of mental flexibility, passion, and personality.

CHE: Did you ever see yourself designing for a healthcare company? 

HS: I don’t think of myself as designing for healthcare. I think of myself as designing for people and where they are in their lives. The best design experience is the kind people don’t even notice. Only afterwards, our patients and providers can feel a sense of relief, levity, and maybe even joy — that’s how you know you’ve done well. People think of art as a canvas on the wall, and healthcare as a sterile doctors office, when in fact we’re all just experiencing a singular reality in which art, design, and wellness are already coexisting. Our job is to tease out the moments of coexistence and make them beautiful and functional. 

CHE: Why did you join Carbon Health?

HS: We’ve all had personal experiences that affect how we experience and perceive healthcare. I’ve witnessed firsthand how broken healthcare systems are; at times it seems like an impenetrable colossus. I don’t know what the solution is, but I know I want to be part of a team that is aiming to improve healthcare.

CHE: What’s one thing that excites you about working at Carbon Health? 

HS: I’m really excited to see how the tech side evolves with the growth of the company. I want to design experiences that encapsulate a holistic health journey. As our tech grows, I also want to ensure that patients are having a seamless experience between our clinics and all of the digital touch points. 

CHE: What inspires you?

HS: I get this question a lot actually, and my answer is always the same. Inspiration is not an external force but an internal modality. What this means is curating your life in such a way that you are continuously refreshed and revitalized each day. This is the source of passion and inspiration.

CHE: Who are your design mentors or role models?

HS: My boss, and the Carbon Health Creative Director, Ryan Putnam, has been a mentor and a friend for many years. We’ve worked together on and off for about five or six years now. He has always inspired and pushed me to lead with empathy, curiosity, and authenticity.

 CHE: What advice would you give up-and-coming designers?

HS: Concepting involves a healthy balance between constraints and a willingness to go wide. Knowing when to push in either direction is something honed over many years of practice.

Andrew Whitmore, Production Designer

Carbon Health Editors: What excites you the most about working for Carbon Health? 

Andrew Whitmore: I’ve followed Carbon Health for some time now on social media, and I really appreciate the design aesthetic and overall objective of the company.

CHE: What motivates you as a designer? 

AW: I really aim to keep my designs simple and convey a story using simple elements.  I aim to always tell a story and create art at the same time.

CHE: Where do you find your biggest inspiration? 

AW: I often turn to nature when looking for inspiration. Nature is the ultimate artist. All colors blend naturally, so I look to nature for color inspiration. I also like to look at other sources. If I’m working on a particular design, I’ll look at designs, magazines, and books that have subject matters that are different from the topic I’m working on. I’m also a firm believer in meditation. There’s this idea that “by letting go, it all gets done.” Let things come to you naturally instead of forcing it.

Interested in joining us on our mission to make high-quality healthcare accessible to everyone? We’re currently hiring designers! Check out our job openings here.

Carbon Health Editorial Team

The Carbon Health Editorial Team is a group of writers, content creators, and thought leaders who are here to empower you to take charge of your health.