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I Know Something About This

Create a global, peer-to-peer learning system that taps all the experience individuals have from going through the end of life experience.

Photo of Jim Rosenberg
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

This concept is designed for people going through the end of life experience. It reimagines the experience as one that is intimately connected to the end of life experience of millions of others. It connects us to our fellow travelers and their stories, and gives us the chance to learn from their experience and wisdom.

The Challenge

The end of life is a universal experience. Yet when you are in the experience it feels like alien, uncharted territory. Everything is new -- the emotions, medical questions, financial worries, family communication, legal requirements, you name it -- even though literally millions of people have stood in your same shoes before. How can we learn from everyone who has gone before us and break through the sense that we are in this alone?

The Concept: A Peer Learning Platform Built on Storytelling 

"I Know Something" (IKS) is a peer-to-peer storytelling platform built on short, first-person video stories and simple reflection exercises. It opens a connected and very human door to learning in an often overwhelming, confusing, and emotional experience. The personal stories, links, and exercises help people understand what is happening, reflect on their own experience, and make great end of life decisions for themselves.  

The Prototype 

We created a working prototype for the Challenge that included six sample stories from peers and from me (an example is embedded below). We continue to work on the service. You can explore the latest version of the IKS site to see where we are, volunteer to share a story, or join our working community. The site works on mobile and desktop. 

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Lessons from the Refinement Phase

We used the prototype to explore IKS with several groups including people who have been through the end of life experience, healthcare professionals, support and therapy experts, and fundraisers (as an initial proxy for donors). We  also worked with individuals to create video stories and learn from planning, capturing, editing, and adding exercises to their stories.

The overall reaction to IKS has been fantastic:

“I think the idea is ridiculously good and has amazing transformative potential."
"Love this idea. Intimate; personal; non clinical; accessible; helpful; provocative; supportive."
"It's excellent. The cult of silence about life limiting illness and death creates a great deal of unnecessary suffering which can be alleviated by people learning from other's experience, and just having permission to think and talk about these issues."
"Great idea! ... to know that the stories and faces of real people going through it are right at your fingertips when you're ready to see them is priceless."
"I spent hours researching about Fibromialgia and found thousands of websites with cold, raw information. This website is like a bowl of hot soup on a cold day for the heart."

You can dig into all the details of what we learned using these documents:

  • Lessons from the Refinement Phase: This document summarizes key findings and includes detailed notes on the feedback we received. It also describes the approach we took to the Refinement phase and the specific activities completed.
  •     Feature and Enhancement Ideas: This document summarizes all of the ideas we heard for features and enhancements to the prototype.

We created some tools to help us collect feedback from the community during the challenge. We would always love to hear more reactions. You can use these tools:

Next Steps

The IKS concept can be developed in lean, iterative steps. The system can be delivered using off the shelf services and technologies so we can jump quickly into new tests with stakeholders. The breadth of content, number of stories, number of users, and user experience can all be expanded step by step as we learn more and more about the community and its needs.

The next step is to move from discussion of the prototype to working with families and caregivers to keep improving the service. There are two paths for this next stage -- one working in partnership with a healthcare provider, the other working with a more diffuse community online.

Details, Notes, and Other Learning

The following documents provide more detail on the concept, experiments, and learning about this concept.

More About the Concept (Updated 7/8/16)

IKS uses personal, human stories to show us we’re not alone and help us understand the end of life experience from the perspective of people like ourselves, people living through the experience. Click here to read a more detailed introduction to the concept.

A User Story (Updated 6/24/16)

Take a closer look at what the experience might be like for a couple who is suddenly facing an end of life experience. IKS gives them a community in which to start making sense of all the questions they now face. Click here to read the detailed user story.

User Experience Maps (Updated 7/6/16)

Roles and Relationships: There are a lot of different people who fill different roles in the end of life experience. Take a look at this document for an overview of the roles and relationships we want to consider.

Key Moments: There are critical moments in the end of life experience where peer stories could be especially helpful. These moments can provide a focus and an armature for building out the IKS collection of lessons. Take a look at our experience map of end of life moments. This is far from a complete map. You can  check out this Google sheet of moments and add your ideas as comments.

The Primary Caregiver: The experience for each role in the end of life experience is different. This document looks at the experience map for the person who serves as the advocate and primary caregiver for someone who is dying.

Additional Experience Maps: We will create additional experience maps to understand the journeys for all of the people who will interact with the system.

Want to Learn More?

We are building I Know Something into an ongoing service for families going through advanced illness and the end of life. We continue to use human-centered design to learn and inform our solution. We would love to talk with you more about the service. Please come visit the I Know Something site and sign up to stay in touch!

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Use a very simple mockup of a site / mobile experience to 1) ask "survivors" if they would want to share stories and why / why not, and 2) ask behavioral health professionals if they would want to augment stories and why / why not.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

1) General reactions -- what strengths and weaknesses do you see? 2) Volunteers to do a Skype interview with me to generate a peer story for the prototype. 3) Connections to palliative and hospice care professionals for interviews about the concept. 4) Interaction design and web development 5) Video production (interviewing, editing)

Tell us about your work experience:

I've worked in tech consulting, tech startups, and nonprofits across several sectors. For the last three years I've been providing strategy, innovation, and new business development consulting to mission-driven organizations. More detail at

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual


Join the conversation:

Photo of Victoria Perroni

Dear Jim,

What made you decide to tackle this specific problem? I have to say, I was not aware of this market before reading this article, but what you’re doing is impressive!

Two questions. How do you plan on sustaining this project past the years you spoke about above? Is this something that you plan on growing nationally and possibly internationally? Good luck on future endeavors.


Photo of Jim Rosenberg

Hi Victoria,

So, I Know Something grew out of my experience with my wife's cancer and her death in 2011. She and I used to talk about how fortunate we were, even in that horrible moment, to have the things we did have: good health insurance, a flexible job so I could take care of her, the education and experience to navigate the health system, supportive and available family, and more. So many people are forced to deal with so much additional suffering because of how we as a society do and don't support each other during illness, trauma, and loss. All of which left me with a desire to do something about those additional layers of suffering. The specific idea for I Know Something, the focus on difficult decisions, and the focus on all the ways we come to "know" (not just cognitive knowing, which is the focus of most health information) grew from my professional experience in peer learning and my personal experience in grief communities.

I would love to see I Know Something grow to be a national and global resource. I pushed on the idea a lot last year to learn from people, develop partners, build a simple prototype (, and work out the business model. My preference was to build the initiative as a client services business (healthcare providers hire us to capture stories that support their target community and most critical care decisions) but I found that to be a tough sell given the priorities and structure of our health system. I think the most reasonable model is as a consumer facing business, with investment up front for a few years to build sufficient scale, then revenue on the back end from participant contributions, referral fees, sponsorships, content licensing, and content production services.

Thanks for asking!


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