The current preventative cancer care landscape is not only scarce but exceedingly difficult to navigate on one’s own. Much of this confusion is over the fact that people with genetic predisposition for cancer are not classified as patients by medical professionals until they are actually diagnosed with cancer. Our client, Preventative Cancer Healthcare (PCH) is a startup that provides women with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 cancer gene assistance to navigate the healthcare system. The goal was to create a care compass to help navigate the healthcare system with a home base platform and to provide patients with peace of mind while actively engaging in their own care. Due to the privacy concerns of the client, I’ve taken measures to protect the information of the client. All names have been changed and the acronym PCH will be used in place of the original company name.
Before we started the project, PCH had already launched the prototype with a Fortune 500 company and planned to develop version 2 as part of employee healthcare benefits. We had a 4-week time frame to test, iterate and present user insights on the existing beta prototype.
1. Improve the patient experience of PCH users
2. Make key iterations and redesigns of the current PCH platform
We first set our attention on our user group: highly motivated healthcare consumers diagnosed with BRCA1 and BRCA2. These women are mostly under the age of 55 and began their care journey based on a history of cancer in the family. They are also very proactive in managing their health but struggle with continuous anxiety.
- Patients not yet diagnosed with cancer have no real means of navigating this high-risk uncertainty
- Users because they do not know at which point in their treatment to see specific types of doctors
- Poor physician office information flow, ignored voicemails/emails, as well as insurance denials
I discovered only a handful of competitors were targeting users with hereditary cancer risk, while others focused on general care coordination. To find more comparable feature sets, we collected data on out of box competitors that had similar concepts applicable to PCH.
I noticed the out of the box competitors created a new spectrum of analysis where they were either serving a need for community or independent self-guided care. The main competitors surrounding PCH were situated closer to the community side of the spectrum that focused more on the patients. Here, our data highlighted a key area of opportunity to build a community that fosters empathy and motivation between patients in balance with independent care.
We interviewed one SME and six users, four of which provided by the client and 2 were sourced from our own personal networks.
- There is a lot of confusion and anxiety at the beginning of the diagnosis
- Patients are on their own when it comes to managing their care plan
- Patients have gotten used to a broken system, but wish their care was easier
“They [healthcare providers] don’t necessarily talk to each other. While they are in the same system, it’s really on you to go through it all.” — Qiuyin, 22
- Users appreciated a home base for their overall care
- Lack of usability and desirability of key concept features
- Not enough personalization to individual diagnosis
Mid interviews, I realized a trending bias in our user pool that was shifting our data. The users we interviewed were already many years into their diagnosis and were well on top of their preventative care plans.
“It seems like although the bells and whistles of the PCH prototype are nicer, it lacks significant content [that would make this prototype viable for users well hearsed in their care].” — anonymous
The prototype will work well on those that know little about their initial diagnosis and are looking for ways to find out more early on. Keeping the bias in mind, we generated an existing user journey from mapping out their behaviors and patterns. This helped uncover an important and specific insight that the current product is only useful for users at the very beginning of their journey. Through the competitive analysis and user insights, we found an indication towards a reliance on community whether the users were just beginning their journey or many years into it.
Based on our research we formulated a problem statement that would help us define our problem space. From it we also derived design principles which would keep our team aligned moving forward with concepting.
Patients recently diagnosed with high-risk HBOC need help to navigate the healthcare system in order to lower anxiety while they are planning their care so they feel confident over their own care plans.
One of the key feature concepts from the current prototype was the Roadmap, which was a step by step guide in organizing care coordination. The Roadmap would tell users when to book specific types of appointments and what they entail. With this in mind, I created some paper prototypes for the Roadmap, alongside a calendar and community feature.
We learned users were easily overwhelmed by information, so we tested this with different ways of displaying information. They were immediately drawn to concepts that held familiar elements to them such as a conventional planner layout. The idea of familiarity helped drive forward our design principle of empowerment that users could fully utilize.
Through testing the concepts with the blog, our insight on the community was reinforced and refined through as a primary resource. What we learned through the testings of other features was a duality of the community as a resource. As much as people want to learn from others, they also want to share information to others as well. This also became a tool of empowerment and tied in elements of having a home base of information.
The concept tests were run predominantly as A/B tests feature against feature created by different members of the team. We synthesized by affinity mapping the findings and narrowed a direction towards a prototype that held specific features in tune with our principles:
- Familiarity of features for users to feel confident in navigating the platform
- Refined logistics of the community as both a blog and a forum
- Simplifying the process of scheduling to ease the skepticism of users
Similar to how we split up the features during concept testing, we prototyped in Axure the concepts we each developed that tested the best. I created a task flow diagram, pieces of the prototype and converged to present a final prototype to Allen.
Using the insight we derived from our concept tests, we found that we could eliminate the several steps of the process of navigating the platform by making the Roadmap the home page. Since this is where we expect users to go as their first touch point in the platform, it made sense that users expected this to be on the home screen.
We conducted 5 user tests with 5 features we had built out within a holistic experience. This was when we really had to scramble for users as only 1 user provided by the client showed up. We reached out to our design community and at the very last possible moment, we were able to pull in enough users to generate enough data and insights on our final prototype.
The original platform introduced users to too many new functions that made users hesitant or confused as to how to use the platform. During our concept tests, what worked the best for users wasn’t anything new but something familiar that could seamlessly fit into the working routine of the user’s current habits. The concept for MyPath that tested the best was an everyday planner look that users instantly felt comfortable with.
We gleaned this insight through several iterations of adding in a community and more refined resource section to the prototype. With misinformation everywhere, the user pool we worked with and have targeted all are very proactive and skeptical with their research. After introducing community elements, users then asked for clarification of who is giving what kind of information which made absolute sense for users to be able to build trust and continue to come back and use.
This was a recurring ask or expectation that the users made during all interview or testing processes. In a globally connected society, staying connected is almost second nature to users. The ability to share findings with healthcare providers, family, friends, caretakers helped manage their care through staying in tune with the people around them.
With each iteration, we began to understand that users needed the most help with finding support that would empower them to move forward. These were very proactive health conscious individuals, they are already reaching out and through the platform we extend that reach to grab onto what they are looking for. The work we progressed in did not necessarily solve the complex functions of the prototype, but we were able to identify, empathize and prioritize user needs in moving forward post hand off. As we concluded discussions and questions, we were pleased to hear and see how thrilled Allen was with all of our work and insights we’ve generated.
“I am impressed and overwhelmed by the amount of work you are giving me… Seriously, awesome job. That was pretty cool to walk through.” — Allen
Following our handoff, Allen planned on working with his UX designer so we prepared specific documents of future considerations split between what the designer should know and what the developers could do at the present state. Although we went through several rounds of usability tests, with each new insight we wanted to implement, there simply wasn’t time within the scope of 4 weeks to test everything.
- Differentiating between a returning user and a new user flow
- Prioritizing the Roadmap as the home page
- Testing the three-step scheduling flow
- Creating a community forum and blog and thinking through the logistics of maintenance
- Resources page where users can compile their personal research
- Journal features for all documentation and records of appointments
Post handoff and completion of our project, our client reached out to us again to hire our team to continue the project. Although I was not available to continue the project it was still a great feeling to know our client would want to work with us again. We had already provided our client with a concise list of future considerations that was out of our scope to accomplish the first time around, so we had a great place to start getting things rolling for pt 2. Some things I learned over the course of 4 sprint weeks:
There was definitely a huge element of efficiency in our team because we continually sought to narrow down the focus. Keeping laser focus helped us to accomplish our primary goals well, and also highlight and prioritize features that will need more work in the future. This was a goal for myself I successfully achieved to keep my eyes on the big picture issue to know where to allocate my time and efforts.
Contextual communication, always anticipating and staying action oriented are the key learnings I experienced through a successful client relationship. I made sure to provide our client with key visuals that kept him in the loop and also showing why we are doing what we are doing, as well as what’s coming next. We also took the time to explain deliverables in detail with him, walking him through what we would be handing off to him and the next steps.