UPMC

Designing a mobile tool that enables chemotherapy patients to self-track, manage, and understand their symptoms.

Duration

8 months

Project Type

Product Design, Visual Design, Mobile Design

Role

Product Designer, UX Researcher

Team

2 Designers, 2 Lab Coordinators, 3 Engineers

My Contribution

I led product development and interface design of this project and supported UX research through conducting patient & provider interviews

Overview

Educating chemotherapy patients about the value of symptom tracking & equipping them with self-management tools

For the first 8 months of 2021, I had the honor to collaborate with the Mobile Sensing + Health Institute of UPMC and Carnegie Mellon’s Data Interaction Group to design a mobile tool to enhance chemotherapy patients’ quality of life through symptom tracking and management. Through designing healthcare from the patients’ perspective coupled with accessible data visualizations, we aim to bridge the communication gap between patients and healthcare providers and bring the best care to patients undergoing chemo.

Preoject Impact

This project is currently in development. It is part of the study of sensing quality of life during cancer treatment at University of Pittsburgh's Biobehavioral Oncology + Technology Lab. The tool has the potential to serve the over 36,000 patients treated at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center each year.

Detects Trends That Need Attention

The tool helps identify any worsening trend for patients and prompts communication with their oncologists.

Immersive Symptom Management Tips

Patients are updated with the symptoms they need to pay most attention to and quick symptom management tips.

Quick Comparison Between Two Data

To prepare patients with any concurrent symptoms, the tool enables quick comparison between symptoms or sensor data.

Data Dashboard to Review Past Ratings

Patients can view both chemo cycle reports and monthly reports that record how they have felt throughout their chemo journey.

Problem Space

Cancer patients tend to under-report their symptoms from chemotherapy, and healthcare providers have trouble knowing and helping them accordingly.

In-depth Research & Understanding

Due to unfamiliarity with chemotherapy and the audience impacted, my teammates and I decided to interview the Hillman Cancer Center patients directly to start tackling problems from their standpoint.

In total, we gathered insights from 12 patients from this round of study. The key insights from these conversations were divided into the following categories, and they greatly informed my design decisions.

Key Research Insights (Collapse to Read)

Our final design question turned out to be:

"How might we enable chemo patients to track and understand their symptoms, leverage the patterns to optimize their quality of life, and proactively reach out to healthcare providers when needed?"

Design

Explore Layouts, Functionalities, and Usability

Since the original prototype from the MOSHI team came up with was on desktop, I initially experimented with a few different data visualization designs on desktop as well. However, after receiving patient input, I quickly pivoted to design on mobile for convenience and efficiency.

In order to test out the usability and desirability of our designs, I teamed up with the lab coordinator and my design partner to conduct usability testing with patients who were going through chemo. We ended up collecting feedback from 5 patients.

Design

Demonstrate value of symptom tracking, provide straightforward symptom management tips, and bridge the communication gap between patients and healthcare providers

With the insights from the usability testings, we made extensive updates to our design for the MVP version of this tool.

Reflection

First healthcare design experience... and I loved it.

This was my first healthcare design experience, and collaborating with such an exceptional group of medical researchers and engineers was a privilege. Going into it, I was worried that I would get very emotional with patient interviews, and it did get emotional at times, but I'm glad that I was able to get a glimpse into their daily routines, their feelings throughout their chemo journey and to make designs based on them. Being able to create something that could hopefully benefit these patients was definitely rewarding for me.

Getting stakeholder alignment is challenging but it makes a better product.

Getting stakeholder alignment is definitely an art. For this project, I was working with another designer and other stakeholders, and sometimes we would have to quickly get alignment and converge to one design to move forward. This process taught me how to articulate my design decisions and how to influence the design direction from the patient point of view.

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