A behavior change framework that provides PATIENTS TOOLS TO TAKE ACTION ON THEIR HEALTH and FORM LASTING healthy HABITS.
Status: Sample App in App Store, APIs publicly available | Role: Lead UX designer
Design a system to help adult patients with chronic health conditions better adhere to their doctors' care plans and stay on track to improve their health.
Chronic disease accounts for approximately 75 percent of the United States' total health care spending, according to the CDC. However, many chronic diseases, such as Type 2 Diabetes are preventable, even reversible. If there were a way to increase patient adherence to their doctor provided care plans, it could both improve patient outcomes, and reduce cost for providers.
I drove the Action Plan project from the design side, developing the system, mapping out the IA, concepting, vetting designs and assumptions with quick prototypes, fleshing out functionality, and creating the final visual style/assets. I also collaborated with other designers, going deep on certain parts of the experience.
We reviewed user feedback from our Beta group, talked to sleep and wellness experts, and did competitive analysis of habit forming and chronic care experiences. To better understand how people build and change behaviors we studied BJ Fogg's behavior model and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg; focusing on the behavior loop of trigger, action, reward.
NUMBERS AREN'T ENOUGH
Looking at beta user feedback from the first iteration of fitness-focused plans, we realized showing people their metrics and a metric goal to reach wasn't enough. We need to show people concrete actions they can take, and explain or show how those actions will help them to achieve their goals. Metrics are, however, great tools to help people track improvement towards their goals.
we can't be the motivator
From talking to wellness experts at the Living Well Health Center at Microsoft, and our learnings from researching coaching frameworks, we realized that no matter how great a system we design, we aren't going to be able to motivate people to change it they aren't ready and willing to at least try. But we can help them to stay engaged once they start using our system.
chronic care & choice
As we moved into the health space, away from fitness, our target user shifted to patients with chronic conditions. This was a pivotal shift. Often times patients won't have a choice in what they have to do and may have to do some tasks for the rest of their lives. Therefore, showing people the impact of their long-term behaviors is very important to keep them engaged.
The structure of the Action Plan system is designed to help users go from a broad goal to specific actions (tasks) they can work on and hopefully turn into lasting habits. Rather than overwhelm the user by showing them everything it will take to ultimately reach their goal, of let's say sleeping better, the user is guided to choose one behavior to work on first. The key shift is focusing on actions instead of metrics.
Evolution of action plans
From fitness-focused metric-based plans,to health-focused habit forming plans,to a scalable care plan framework.
FROM FIRST PARTY TO PLATFORM
Throughout this project our user and business goals shifted. We moved from focusing on adults trying to improve their sleep and fitness to patients with chronic health conditions; moving from a first party system, where we owned the content, to a platform where partners/providers could create their own custom care plans inside of our Action Plan Framework. This meant the specific type of chronic patients using Action Plans would vary based on the different partners running plans in our framework.
research and design changes
With our shift to platform and chronic patients, we worked with our partner at the time to understand the content and delivery of their care plans and how they interacted with patients. We researched other programs/services helping chronic patients, trying to understand user needs and barriers. How we integrated 'choice' and flexibility into our system shifted. We focused less on helping the user choose where they want to begin, knowing that doctors will push pre-set care plans directly to their users. The flexibility we built into the system shifted from the patient side to the provider side, allowing the provider for example to set the completion window for a task. Even our language shifted. 'Focus' became 'Plan' and 'Habit' became 'Task.' For the user, showing progress towards long term-goals was even more crucial.
MAPPING OUT THE FLOW
I mapped out the architecture of the system, and worked closely with our engineering team to account for different use cases, for example going through the onboarding flow for the first time, versus revisiting the flow later to add another habit.
The Action Plan Framework is built on top of the Healthvault Platform, Microsoft's secure and HIPPA compliant health data storage system. We designed a sample app experience to showcase the framework's functionality to partners/providers.
To stay on track to become healthier by following their doctor provided care plans users must be able to: (1) see what they need to do next (the timeline), (2) know in the moment when they need to something (reminders), and (3) see if what they are doing has impact over time (progress).
The Timeline shows users tasks they need to do and if they're completed. Users can set reminders and track other tasks they did, not scheduled for today. Some tasks can be auto-tracked with 3rd party devices/wearables, lowering the barrier to track a task.
With progress, users can see how specific tasks they are doing relate to the progress they're making towards their goals. Each objective goal the user is working towards has has a metric tied to it. The user can also come here to track missed tasks.
The last phase of this project was creating/opening up our APIs. I worked with engineering to help inform the APIs we shipped, starting by sketching different potential scenarios for the experience, then mapping data types to those scenarios. This helped prioritize what we built, making it easy to see what data types were most versatile across possible 3rd party scenarios.
From the beginning of this project we flighted different concepts with quick prototypes and as the project progressed, I worked with another designer/prototyper on our team to build out richer, functional prototypes to put in front of users during weekly usability studies.
IMPACT & Learnings
key to partner integration
The Action Plan Framework was important to getting partners onto the Healthvault Platform, our team's broader business goal. We presented the Action Plan Framework at HIMSS (the industry's largest Health IT Conference) and BUILD. I designed materials to convey the system and walked potential partners through it at HIMSS. We also had a major partner in the UK begin a study running the Action Plan Framework with users.
keep validating your hypotheses
Shifting to a platform approach and integrating Action Plans with Healthvault added many more connections and dependencies across the system. That made it more challenging to flight individual parts of the experience. Testing parts of the larger experience independently of the entire system is immensely helpful and allows for quicker iteration and scrappiness within the context of a much larger platform.
flighting with users
It was challenging to flight concepts with chronic patients, due to the sensitivity of medical info and the fact that the specific type of diseases of our users would vary based on different partners using our platform. It's important to get creative and test designs in different ways. Testing usability with users as close to your target user as possible and flighting functionality with partners and other experts in the problem space.