Carnegie Mellon University

Maggie Breslin, illustrated with a bright green, orange, and pink background.

Patient Revolution

Maggie Breslin: Design a Revolution

written by
Joseph Lyons

Maggie Breslin’s first job in healthcare was also a first for healthcare.

After earning a master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design, Breslin became the Mayo Clinic’s inaugural designer/researcher in the SPARC — See, Plan, Act, Refine, Communicate — Innovation Program, which later became the Center for Innovation.

It’s a role Breslin likens to being “a kid in a candy store.”

“Care happened all around me and I was allowed to watch,” Breslin said. “It was at Mayo Clinic that I learned what it means to make in this kind of environment and in response to these kinds of problems; how it requires not only traditional making skills but also relationships, flexibility, humility and patience.”

In her unique position as a healthcare designer, Breslin develops new processes for an evolving industry. Along the way, she has gained an appreciation for how different disciplines can come together and how the tensions inherent in healthcare — doing what is best for people vs. doing what is best for business — affect care.

Today, Breslin serves as director of The Patient Revolution, a nonprofit organization that develops tools, programs and resources to help patients, caregivers, communities and clinicians create healthcare that is careful and kind. The idea is to remake the healthcare system so that it responds to the individual patient and that patient’s unique situation, finding the best course of action for that person, at that moment in time.

“The approach and methods that designers bring to the table can be incredibly useful in healthcare because healthcare is a messy world,” Breslin said. “Research helps understand the complexity. Making and prototyping are ways to bring a different vision to reality.”