Complex medical data streams made clear

Our Role
Product Strategy
Design Leadership
Product Design
UX / UI / Visual Design User Research


Project Phases
Design Development Prototyping
Pilot / MVP

The Design Brief

This project was done as the design lead as a member of a large consortium of physicians, administrators, and researchers. The goal was to create a dashboard for physicians to manage the care of young diabetes patients. The dashboard provides a single place to gather, track, coordinate and display information prior to, during and following regular appointments. The application dashboard is accessed by physicians, patients and families.

Our Role

Our role was to lead the product design stream of the project on behalf of Careteam. Specifically we led the design of the physician and patient dashboard. We worked iteratively with physicians to gather requirements for the dashboard and provide user experience, interface design, and visual design, and manage the development of the dashboard as part of the Careteam action plans.

The Design Challenge

This project featured a large number of stakeholders and a complex set of requirements.

One of the challenges with design projects with large numbers of stakeholders is that every individual has a private version of what their ideal outcome is. That means that you can have a dozen different ideas about what this artefact will be at the outset, and you have to work to quickly move people from a perfect private idea of the proposed project to a shared vision of the future.

Additionally the data and content was in itself fairly complicated, but inputs were being gathered from both analog and digital devices, and from multiple brands of devices, and the system needed to be open enough to ingest and display additional data from future sources that were currently unknown.

The dashboard also needed to fit within the well-established workflow of the physician-patient relationship. Any new application has to fit into its concept to minimise disruption and increase acceptance rates.

Gaining Alignment Through Prototyping

Our approach is to quickly get alignment between stakeholders by creating multiple prototypes in rapid succession, alternating between extracting requirements and then presenting them as visual artefacts to allow everyone to provide feedback.

This moves people out of the private ideas in their head, it provides a record of not just the decisions that are made, but also the effects of those decisions on the interface and subsequently on the experience of the users. Once we saw the physical outcomes of the decisions This iterative approach is key to quickly gaining alignment between diverse parties with different ideas quickly.

Complex Requirements For Medical App Design

The dashboard had to communicate complex interrelated data streams, and adapt to conditional states, depending on the patient and their context. We were also dealing with an asymmetry of knowledge between the core user types. For example, how physicians understand this data, and how they need to navigate the application between numerous patients is different from the patients themselves. Patients hold a very personal appreciation of the data, but not to the same level of expertise to interpret. Also, patients are not uniform in their familiarity with the data or the core related concepts.

It’s important to design for the evolving understanding on the part of the patient of the content. That means understanding the needs of newly diagnosed patients, or patients that are new to the dashboard, and provide good onboarding, and then allow for increasing familiarity with the concepts in the interface as the patient’s understanding evolves

Complex Workflows For Medical Applications

What makes a workflow complex isn’t necessarily the number of steps in the workflow, more commonly the complexity comes from managing multiple different streams through similar steps. Patients with different conditions, different levels of knowledge, and at different stages of a given condition may require different approaches and different types of data to get through the same simple workflow. In a similar manner to how we iterate on requirements by making prototypes, we approach managing user flows the same way. We employ diagramming and journey maps to investigate different pathways, and reveal exception states. By prototyping user journeys in this way and presenting them to a large number of stakeholders we can test concepts and validate that needs from that point of view.

UX Design for the Unknowns of Complex Ecosystems

In the case where we have such complex requirements and user flows, we also know that by their very nature complex requirements means that there’s a certain unpredictability and unknown, I know, ability, this also means that the design needs to accommodate the ability for it to be updated in the future as a new exception states a new requirements arise.

Another challenge was that we needed to integrate wearable device data. Because of the different levels of completeness of data, as well as different types of data we receive from different devices they were user experience challenges in creating a single experience between patients using different devices.

Iteration and Learning by Making

As a simple summary we can say that when faced with complex user flows, data and content with a large group of stakeholders the only way is to “make” your way through it.

Making generates knowledge about the project and communicates the outcomes of decisions in a way that creating reams of text-based requirements simply can’t accomplish as effectively. There’s no substitute for spending time working through iterative cycles.

Collaborating with Codename was a great experience! Their ability to quickly understand the nuances of our project and transform them into an outstanding design solution left us thoroughly impressed.

Rob Attwell

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