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More Than Words: How visuals can help us heal healthcare

Katie McCurdy, Dr. Anita Ravi
Running Time:60 minutes
Event Date(s)
2:30 PM EST
Thursday, November 14
BAC Annex Up

The culture of healthcare is built on words: spoken, written, and typed words. But in many cases, words don’t work. Words can’t efficiently explain bodily sensations or lifetime journeys; they can’t sufficiently show emotions or trauma. As a result, patients and doctors often don’t understand each other, and our broken healthcare system bumbles along. This session will feature stories from a doctor and a patient who have each discovered new ways of communicating using visuals and drawing.


Katie McCurdy is a designer and autoimmune patient who has been visualizing her health for most of the last decade. After realizing how much her doctors loved this approach and how many patients stood to benefit, she started a company to bring this novel approach to others. Pictal Health is the first company to help people with rare, complex, and mysterious health issues tell their stories visually – helping them feel heard and understood as they work with their doctors to get the right diagnosis and treatment. In this session Katie will share interesting and surprising insights about she’s gained from working directly with over 40 patients and healthcare providers and speaking to hundreds more – including how patients visually represent their symptoms and journeys, how to avoid overwhelming visual representations, how this method helps patients and providers, and more.

Dr. Anita Ravi is a board-certified family physician, public health researcher and co-founder of the PurpLE Health Foundation. The Foundation builds on her work creating and running the PurpLE Clinic in New York City, which provided long-term medical care for people who have experienced human trafficking and other forms of trauma, including sexual assault and domestic violence. Anita regularly draws, writes and speaks across the country on how the health care system must radically adapt to meet the needs of survivors of trafficking and other forms of gender based violence. Using comics she created based on her PurpLE Clinic experiences, Anita will share the ways in which she has needed to “unlearn medicine” in order to provide person-centered care for her patients and the reasons why she’s driven to transform healthcare delivery for all patients.