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Case Study:

AMMA (Asthma Monitoring and Management App)

App design | UI design | Interaction design | Data visualisation | Prototype

Creating a companion app to a new wearable device to help asthmatics monitor and manage their health.

Background

Asthma affects over 25 million adults and children in the US alone, and is responsible for 14.2 million physician visits each year as well as 1.8 million emergency care visits.

Asthma is defined as a chronic condition, meaning it can suddenly flare-up with little warning. Although the symptoms and triggers vary from person to person, during the course of this project I quickly became aware of how difficult it can be for asthmatics to manage their health.

Purpose

This product is aimed at helping a user overcome some of the challenges associated with managing their asthma, and improving medication adherence.

How

By utilising and displaying three forms of information streams

  1. Passive data from user: the wearable device collects user data such as heart rate and oxygen saturation levels

  2. Environmental factors: weather, pollen count

  3. User inputted data: symptoms, reminders


 

UX Objectives and challenges

When designing this my aims were to:

  • Create a product that complements a users lifestyle rather than dominates it

  • Peace of mind for user, data security

  • Provide reliable, consistent, useful, and timely information as symptoms are detected or begin to worsen.

  • Reduce burden on user by automating as much monitoring as possible, intervening only when required. Make asthma a smaller part of their lives.

  • Informing but not overwhelming: present information from wearable device (heart rate, oxygen saturation, pollen/pollution) alongside user-inputed data (such as symptoms, medication log, peak flow etc) in an easy to understand way.

    Venn diagram of goals and pain points for both business and user illustrated here:

 
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Research phase

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I conducted an anonymous online survey, following up with participants who were happy to be contacted for more in-depth phone interviews. From this I was able to identify personas and target users.

Target users

  • those who have been recently diagnosed

  • parents and carers of asthmatic children

  • those who have infrequent but aggressive bouts of asthma

Users who fell into one or more of these three groups struggled to manage their asthma due to the unpredictability of symptoms, unknown triggers, and would be most likely to benefit from this product. I developed personas based on this info.

 

Monitoring

  • Recording peak flow measurements is the most common baseline and is a very simple task, but to be effective it requires the user to do the test daily, or at least regularly, to show patterns of improvement or decline. 

  • But I discovered that many people didn’t bother to do this because they didn’t have the equipment, the motivation, or simply forgot. 

Management

  • 70% have forgotten to take their medication in the past

  • 43.3% had NO healthcare management action plan (for everyday, for when symptoms worsen, or for an emergency situation)

  • 70% tried to record symptoms and triggers either regularly or when symptoms worsen, recording them in places such as an app, phone notes or mentally.

Health app landscape

  • 26.7% use health apps on their phone such as RunKeeper, Apple health, MyFitnessPal, FitBit, step counters and migraine apps.

  • 86.7% have never used an app for asthma management

 

Design phase

Dashboard concept, annoted to show features on the four key states “Normal”, “information alert”, “amber alert” and “red zone”:

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App architecture overview:

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Annotated onboarding flow design:

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Annotated initial design concepts for logging symptoms, inhaler usage, and peak flow measurements:

 
 

User testing

I set about user testing my prototype with 3 people who have asthma. I used InVision for this process, recording sessions with Silverback for future reference. I compiled a list of common errors and feedback to improve the next version.

Errors

  • Clicking on hamburger menu instead of the plus button when asked to log symptoms/peak flow/puff count  (Comments were along the lines of, “once you see it its obvious but it doesn’t stand out very much initially”. Additional click test research was carried out to see where people clicked for this task and the large majority of people knew that the plus meant “add”.)

  • Not understanding O2 icon at first glance

  • Not knowing to click on + sign to add peak flow measurements

  • The log for todays puff count should be higher/nearer the source input

Improvements to UI

I realised that the colour of the interface was actually more distracting than it was helpful, so I tried out other combinations of colours to find something that enhanced the look and feel. Again, it was important to the users that it did not have an overly "medical" feel to it. Below is the improved UI design.

 
 

UI design: Icons, buttons and interactive elements of design:

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Branding: Logo design, app icon design, colour palette and typography:

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Final design for key screens of the app

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Reflections

I was pleased with what I had achieved in the two week design sprint, and it was really exciting to create something that could be game changer for asthmatics who struggle to manage their health.

If I had more time I would like to have developed the on-boarding more to help the user get the most out of this app as quickly as possible. I would want to A/B test to see how users respond to a longer or more detailed on-boarding process. The on-boarding could include an opportunity to include details of inhalers/medicines taken, giving the user the feeling that the app is more fully configured from the moment they start using it. 

Potential areas for future improvements:

  • Being able to log symptoms more than once a day (would need to see how many users would benefit from this feature)

  • Being able to change the colour of the inhaler icon to reflect the physical inhalers used - useful when user has to juggle multiple inhalers 

  • Further improvements to the on-boarding experience to help users get the most out of the product

 

© Amy Shepheard 2018