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Role: UX, Wireframe and Prototyping

Brief: Create a mobile application for pain management

6 weeks group project with Ethel Chou, Peggy Chau and Willow Hong (Animations: Nema Rao)

Mobile health, Carnegie Mellon University, Spring 2017
Client: 
Dr. Jonassaint Charles

CarePal is a holistic pain communication tool that pain can be expressed
with animations and tracked alongside other factors for effective patient-physician communication.

 
 

 
 

BACKGROUND

Pain is the #1 reason for medical visits in the U.S. The medical costs and lost economic productivity due to pain is up to $635 billion. Despite the significant need, pain is poorly assessed and treated. Other pain scales are reliant on words, phrases or numbers that don’t accurately capture the dynamic nature of pain and alienate individuals with communication disorders, low literacy or of different cultures. CarePal overcomes these barriers in care.

 
 

 
 

CURRENT PROCESS & PAIN POINTS

Current experience of managing pain is burdensome for patients. Providers often recommend to write a pain diary, but difficult for patients to 1) know what to write 2) do on a daily basis. When the patient calls/visit the provider, it is hard for the patient to describe their pain using words and numbers-which might not lead to correct treatment or prescription. 

 
 
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SOLUTION

 
 
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In CarePal, pain can be expressed with animations and tracked alongside situation or trigger of the pain. CarePal helps user's journey in three ways. 

  • Visualize pain quality and intensity: By selecting animations to express what their pain feels like, users can more intuitively capture their pain.

  • Holistic approach to pain tracking: Users can track other values that impact pain, such as emotional state, time of day, and medication intake changes.

  • Data analysis: User input gets analyzed into actionable and clinically significant information, which leads to better patient-provider communication.
 
 

 
 

APPLICATION MAP

For patients, they can express pain with various type of animations that indicates specific pain and connect it to situation or trigger. For providers, contextualized pain can easily help them to connect pain to causes and environment. Integration with existing clinical intake assessment form help providers to facilitate the treatment they receive in emergency care.

 
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PROCESS


01

UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM

 
 

We were asked to design a mobile version of PainimationPainimation is a web-based prototype for communicating pain that has been tested in clinics at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. It allows users to express the type of pain they are feeling through animations, and color in the location of their pain. 

 
 


PROBLEM SCOPING

Based on the patient populations with chronic pain we would be able to obtain access to, we decided to hone in on 1 specific population - Sickle Cell Disease(SCD) to design for which we could later scale up from. We found that SCD pain symptoms occur over the duration of the disease and the symptoms matches will with existing animations. We also found a clear need for better pain communication for these patients.

 
 

 
 

02

EXPLORATORY RESEARCH


PATIENT INTERVIEW

We conducted interviews with 6 sickle cell patients and providers at UPMC's sickle cell anemia clinic.  We aimed to 1) examine the current patient experience with pain, providers and pain tracking 2) Probing for their reactions to the pain animation functionality. Images below are drawings from patients that express their pain.

 
 
 
 

 
 

ANIMATION EVALUATION

“Which animation is applicable to your pain?” (6 patients answered)

Electrifying (6) | Stabbing (5) | Burning (4) | Cramping (3) | Shooting (2) | Throbbing (1) | Tingling (1) | Pounding (1)  

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PROVIDER INTERVIEW & SURVEY

We interviewed 2 providers & surveyed 3 providers. We aimed to 1) Examining the current workflow with patient appointments 2) Probing for their reactions to the animations functionality  3) Looking into difficulties in understanding a patient’s pain 4) Data they would need or like to have to improve their treatment plans.

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03

INSIGHTS & DIRECTIONS

We synthesized all the research for patterns and pain points. We then used the key insights to derive main design directions that helped guide us during our concept development.

 
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04

CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT


With those insights in mind, we began categorizing values that were important to track for the patient and provider. As we did this, we made sure our focus stayed on enhancing tracking adherence and deriving clinical measures.

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Because we were asked to design a mobile application, we started to sketch out our interaction flow in mobile environment. We espeically kept design patterns about lowering capture burden in mind. We also assumed a degree of flexibility by imagining how the user experience could be improved with a conversational UI that had the setup to perform entity extraction from the data.

 
 
 
 

For more detailed process documentation, click here.