Design an app that allows users to easily access, download and share medical data.
I received this challenge as part of a design interview; just to make the challenge more fun, I imposed a time constraint of 8 hours, one work day.
Below is what I got.
Set The Scene
In the age of big data, more and more medical and health information is being collected from patients. However, such information is currently held by patients’ healthcare providers and patients do not have easy access to their own information. This data ownership and access issue demands a fix.
I envision in the near future, patients will obtain the sole ownership of their own medical information. Patients will be free to access their medical records, and can grant access to, and restrict access from any party to their information.
With this social backdrop in mind, I designed Medichive, an information management tool that enables patients to assess and share their personal medical information.
30 minutes, with multiple Revisions
Since I only had 8 hours in total, much user research and policy research were not possible. I think it is important for a designer to recognize the assumptions that inform her design decisions. I documented my assumptions below.
The policy context
Medical information ownership belongs to the patient.
Medical information sharing agreements and protocols have been established between a wide network of healthcare providers, and potential legal barriers that prevent medical information sharing, such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996), have been cleared.
The app context
Medichive will be integrated into healthcare care providers’ existing patient online portal. One potential revenue model for the app is to sell Medichive as a patient data management service to healthcare providers and the Medichive team will provide assistance for integration.
Because I envision Medichive to be part of a larger application, I assume that functionalities such as alerts, reminders, messaging healthcare providers, making appointments etc. will be handled by the other existing features of the patient online portal. Medichive’s primary role is to provide tools for users to access and share their older medical data, acting much like an archive.
Medichive will have two user groups: patients and healthcare providers. Their respective portals will look different. For this exercise, I will design the portal for the patients’ side. A complementary healthcare provider portal will be needed for a complete user experience.
Primary patient demographic for Medichive:
Relatively familiar with technology
In general good health
A persona gives my designs a starting point. I created a quick one using my personal experiences and those of my friends.
Jane is a first-year graduate student at UC Berkeley majoring in Cognitive Psychology. Graduate school is demanding and Jane spends most of her time on course work. In her precious spare time, Jane enjoys playing board games and hiking. She has an iPhone on an unlimited data plan, a Lenovo ThinkPad, and an iPad. She enjoys the benefits of having constant access to information via technology, but also gets frustrated sometimes for having to “keep up with all the notifications.”
Jane’s health insurance designates Kaiser Permanente as her primary healthcare provider. Jane goes to Kaiser for three types of visits:
Regular bi-weekly visit to the sport-medicine and physical therapy for a chronic back injury
Annual physical and vision exams
Occasional sickness such as flu, fever and ear infections
Two months ago, Jane spent an entire day transferring medical records from her previous healthcare providers to Kaiser. The process involved a lot of calling, waiting, paperwork and faxing. She’s glad that task is done, for now at least.
In addition to Kaiser visits, Jane also goes to a dentist every 6 months for dental checks, and a chiropractor every month for her back pain. Next week, she has a new patient appointment with an acupuncturist, who may be able to provide alternative relief for the back pain. She will need to fill in a description of her medications, physician’s diagnosis and treatment plan.
30 minutes, with multiple revisions
As a way to gather requirements, I analyzed what tasks Jane would want to perform.
View a complete medical record from all previous healthcare providers
Verify when to schedule the next annual exam
Check when a certain test was done last time
Check the vaccine shots
Review her glasses prescription history
View record of a specific condition
Analyze and visualize her healthcare data
Annotate, correct, inquire about record with provider
Grant/review/revoke other parties access to Jane’s medical records
For access control, I referenced Google Drive.
For data presentation, I referenced gmail.
30 minutes, one user
I quickly recruited a user that fit in my persona's demographic, and showed him my sketches. I got the follow feedback:
Analytics of medical data was not useful to him, since the data was too sparse to be insightful.
He would like to have the ability to add his own customized notes under the condition history page.
I took these feedback into account when designing the prototype.
Guided by my design assumption that Medichive would be integrated into existing healthcare provider patient e-portals. I designed the Medichive interface as part of Kaiser Permanente's patient portal.
The design architecture features two main actions: view archive, and manage access. And under view archive, data is split into four categories for easy access. More work such as interviews with medical record managers needs to be done to refine the data categorization.
I used Kaiser's theme color as the call-to-action color, and used different hues of gray to section the background.
For interaction design, in addition to the basic interactions, I designed a right click to bring up an action menu, and an accordion drop-down for distinguishing content hierarchy.
Right Click →
After evaluating the prototype against the heuristics checklist, I spotted the base template needed improvements regarding
Visibility of system status
Aesthetic and minimalist design
I went through three iterations to fix these usability issues:
30 minutes, two users
I asked the users to do think-aloud walkthroughs. Below were the feedback and improvements:
The plus button's purpose was not clear.
The right click action menu's wording was not clear.
The latest checkup's wording was not clear.
Finally, I present you with Medichive, patient's medical information management tool of the future!
If there were more time...
The following tasks would be the next priority to make Medichive production quality:
Improve the information categorization
Research data access policy
Conduct more generative and summative user testing