The medical consultation between healthcare providers and breast cancer patients - doing chemotherapy - is the focus of this research. This medical moment has been changing under the influence of different players and throughout time. Moreover, this change has been increasing exponentially through recent technological innovation that contributes to the patient’s empowerment.
After researching the communication flow and exchange of information between breast cancer patients and healthcare practitioners, I have found that there was a need for a more personalised and step-by-step approach.
According to my point of view, the information-exchange of the consultation moment presents three main weak points: the information provision to patients is scattered over different media - various leaflets, hospitals’ and organisations’ websites, etc - and not always tailored according to individual needs, values, and behaviours; and the existing system does not enable and encourage patient empowerment.
Drawing on this issue, my thesis develops an approach and designs a system to respond and speculate on the need for a personalised and integrated patient’s healthcare experience.
The result of my investigation is AidA, an app that encourages patients empowerment and provides tailored provision of information.
Link data to contextual information
One of the most important functionalities of AidA is allowing the patient to record her data through direct inputs - text and voice.
AidA serves a double purpose. Firstly, the app integrates all different medical contents and distributes them over time and over medical consultation, that offers an appropriate amount of information to the patient and the time to digest it. The patient can interact with this information, highlight or comment on the content, and share in advance her topic of interest with the provider in order to plan the next medical consultation.
To serve the second purpose, AidA takes advantages of the data gathered by the mobile phone and its connected devices to create a journal in which patients are encouraged to add contextual data to the collected events. The interface enables the patient to explain the reasons behind the data through textual or voice input.
When designing for patients I found relevant to encourage and visualise the human annotation on top of the data that shows the beginning of a story and a human voice behind it.
Next medical consultation
The patients can send questions and relevant remarks ahead to the practitioners in order to structure the next medical consultation. AidA speculates on the idea of empowering the patient while optimising the consultation time.
AidA takes advantages of the data gathered by the mobile phone and its connected devices to create a journal in which patients are encouraged to add contextual data to the collected events.
Over the process of my research, I had the chance of being tutored by the nurse practitioner of the oncology ward at the Catharina Ziekenhuis Eindhoven, Angelie van den Bosch. As a specialist in chemotherapy, Angelie emphasised the importance of having a clear feedback from the patient on specific treatments or activities.
AidA allows patients to portray a personal journal to the healthcare practitioner, who can give meaning to the additional information. Ultimately, patients and healthcare providers can identify patterns in behaviours, lifestyle, and in the whole patient healthcare experience.
Alongside with the support and dedication of the healthcare provider, I’ve interviewed a restricted group of patients. Most of the interviews were possible thanks to the fruitful collaboration with the Creative Care Lab of the Waag Society which supported my investigation with the introduction to a new approach, new tools and expert colleagues.
The conversation with patients helped me to nurture my research and to do an initial test of the design and interactions of AidA. Patient’s feedback were both diverse and similar and extremely connected to their personal experiences.
Even within a small group of patients, a common aspect was immediately highlighted: patients were all sharing the need of journalising their experience in an easy and structured way, and to attribute a value to it by sharing with healthcare providers, caregivers, and other patients.
Process and next steps
After a period of research, developing the AidA concept started out with a huge initial difficulty as open a dialogue with healthcare providers to discover, investigate and argue my research findings and hypothesis. → Read the Methodology for further details
I used the obstacle of having no access to the healthcare system as an opportunity to reconsider my discoveries, and to have a different take on the subject. I soon realised that among the healthcare players one has more freedom than all the others: the patient.
The diverse interviews with patients highlighted various priorities that made me redesign the application from the ground up. The patients' experiences and knowledge lead me to reconsider the information architecture many times and so I quickly faced the need to use a prototyping tool to show the developments in order to gain the maximum out of each precious patients’ and providers’ interview.
The very first prototype integrates some quick visuals done with Sketch into inVision, but I’ve quickly moved forward due to the enormous amount of limitations. The next versions (shown above) are built in Principle which reproduces quite nice animations but it gets way too messy when the amount of interactions grows. So I am currently learning Framer to achieve more accurate animations and interaction possibilities.