2021 Rising Star: Julie Mendoza

Current projects: I’ve been collaborating with my colleagues on providing a research-driven solution to reduce inequity in healthcare. Gaining a thorough understanding of how the social determinants of health directly impact wellness within a specific, medically underserved neighborhood in Dallas, we’ve been able to develop a hypothesis on how community-based telemedicine can best be implemented.

Sources of inspiration: I’ve always been most inspired by people—people I work with, people I learn from, and people I serve. My parents are truly selfless, and they’ve demonstrated the importance of being empathetic and going above and beyond to ensure the happiness of others. Through my work, I want to give back to my community and find a way to help people live happier, healthier, longer lives.

Best advice you’ve received: “You can’t learn anything when you’re talking.” This is something I’ve heard numerous times throughout my career, and it’s critical to the work I do as a medical planner and researcher. You must design for the unique needs of people through garnering an understanding of the issues they face and what brings them joy to create truly human-centric spaces.

Dream project: I’m so fortunate to have already had the opportunity to lay the groundwork for my dream project. The biggest obstacle I’m currently facing is being able to test our hypothesis in the field and collect additional data on its viability. In general, I’d love to continue my research into how the social determinants of health can be analyzed in specific geographic zones to improve population health.

Trends you’re tracking: I’m excited to see the integration of health and wellness into traditionally nonhealthcare industries. When I present my research, I always teasingly present a scenario in which you could stop at a gas station during a road trip and grab a Slim Jim, a Red Bull, and a check-up all in one stop. How cool would it be if that were the reality?  Healthcare should be accessible and flexible enough to meet people’s varying needs, and telemedicine is one way to achieve this.

Memorable pandemic moment: In 2020, my team partnered with Texas A&M University to conduct a series of roundtables with health systems to understand what they were facing daily. Most inspiring to me was the endless teamwork and collaboration we witnessed, not only in the medical field but within the architecture profession, as well. COVID-19 broke down silos within clinical care, spurred the adoption of telemedicine, and forced clinical teams to “MacGyver” their own flexible patient care solutions in real time. It was a testament to what people are capable of when we work together.

Your industry crystal ball says: I think the healthcare industry will continue to embrace technology for virtual care, with adaptability at the forefront of design. But as we continue to think about what adaptable healthcare design will look like in the future, we will also need to consider the evolution of regulations to allow for improved solutions.

Not only will the delivery of healthcare need to be adaptable, but as designers, we will need to also be adaptable and embrace change. As we approach this next era of digital health, we have an opportunity to create unique solutions that improve health equity and create stronger, healthier communities.

Nous vous invitons…

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