We designed WeCare, a mobile application that empowers networks of caregivers to collaboratively manage medicinal information and refill responsibilities for their loved ones.
First, our team set out to better understand the caregiver experience and what types of pharmaceutical activities they engage in with this role. We became fascinated with the common phenomena of caregiving networks, which distribute responsibilities across many individuals.
We created a semi-structured interview guide for caregivers to help us gain a better understanding of how caregiving networks operate. To supplement the interviews, we designed a Cultural Probe comprised of four activities aiming to encourage reflection on pharmaceutical caregiving tasks.
First, our team set out to better understand the US pharmaceutical system as well as the caregiver experience. We discovered that caregiving responsibilities often cause a significant amount of mental, emotional, and relational strain, which can lead to caregiver burnout.
After this initial literature review, we became fascinated with the phenomenon of shared care across networks of relatives, friends, and professional help.
Next, we created a semi-structured interview guide for caregivers to help us gain a better understanding of how caregiving networks form and operate as well as what might help them become more unified.
We supplemented the interviews with a Cultural Probe including four designed activities aiming to encourage reflection among caregivers. One asked participants to visually map out the networks of care surrounding their loved ones - this served as an excellent conversation starter. Another requested caregivers to detail instructions to an individual if they were going to take over caregiving responsibilities for a few days. After completing these activities with six Seattle caregivers, we analyzed the results and extracted several insights.
Prescription information is poorly centralized, causing difficult recall and medication errors
"All the sudden you’re at the emergency room and they’re asking ‘what meds is your mom on?’ and you don’t know enough detail.” (P1)
The prescription pickup and refill process is inefficient and burdensome for caregivers
“...instead of having medicines needing to be picked up three to four times a month. Can’t we get everything due all at once? I’ve been complaining for years." (P4)
Shared caregiving improves caregiver mental health and quality of care
"Just figure out a system for getting a little bit of help and it makes a big difference. It really does." (P4)
Level of personalized attention from pharmacists affects enjoyment of pharmacy experience
"When they talk to me, feels like pharmacists are more concerned with finishing conversations and moving on." (P3)
It was clear that the complexity of managing prescription information and refills for caregivers was significant, and warranted attention. It was also clear that coordinating these tasks across a network of multiple caregivers had the potential to lessen that burden and increase caregiver confidence.
We each ideated around thirty concepts aiming to address gaps in the caregiving network experience, grounded in our insights. We used ideation methods like 2x2's and Crazy 8's. Crucial to our process of downselection to 20 concepts was discussing the viability, feasibility, and desirability of our concepts with representative from Premera.
We used a decision matrix to help us further narrow to three concepts which included a set of criteria reflecting our research insights. Each idea was given a score of -1, 0, or 1 for each criteria, and ideas with higher scores were identified as strong candidates!
Automated Rx Scanner
An app that allows caregivers to create medicine administration reminders for their loved ones by scanning prescription labels. It could also track medication interactions!
Encrypted Caregiver Card
An extension of the Premera ID card that securely stores loved ones medicinal information onto a caregivers' ID card.
Network Coordination Tool
An online system, perhaps paired with in-home device companion, that empowers networks to better coordinate their responsibilities together.
We storyboarded these concepts to understand how they could be used over time. Through storyboarding the caregiver card concept, I realized the card would become just one more thing for the caregiver to keep track of, which doesn't actually alleviate much burden.
As a team, we decided to explore combining the network coordination concept with the medication scanner in a mobile application in hopes to empower caregiving networks to manage medications together with more confidence.
We storyboarded these ideas to gain a better sense of the contexts in which they could be used. We discovered that the Premera card didn’t create much value - if Premera already had the loved one’s info in their systems, why would caregivers need to carry the card? We felt the network coordination concept was the richest in terms of potential impact and intersection with our research, Tanya’s storyboard of it is shown to the right. We felt we could combine this concept with the medication management tool to bring it more into our scope.
We created low-fi wireframes of this envisioned mobile application to test with caregivers. In our app, caregivers could add individuals to their "caregiving network." The network could use the app to coordinate shared tasks like appointment transportation and refill pickups, as well as access loved ones' medication lists.
Users couldn't decide if WeCare was primarily a task management tool or a medicinal management tool
Potential audience should include networks with multiple care recipients, and temporary caregivers
Centralized location for medicinal information management is desirable
Transparency of roles within network improves accountability and communication
Together, we realized WeCare was attempting to wear too many hats for caregivers. Including the ability to create "tasks" for other caregivers in their network to complete was not only confusing to users, but provided little value to caregivers already using existing tools like Google Calendar.
Before jumping straight into iterating our wireframes, I wanted to further envision a contextualized use case of our concept. Creating a network of personas and a corresponding journey map helped us rethink the role WeCare could play in caregivers' daily lives in light of our testing feedback.
These activities further confirmed that a calendar-driven task management tool wasn't necessary or desired. So, we reduced the task management aspect of WeCare to simpler "refill tasks" that are attached to medications within the app and assigned to one individual in the network to complete.
We also created a sitemap to further identify what information would live in our app, and how users could interact with it.
Creating moodboards helped us form an approachable and friendly visual identity for the app. These traits were important for us to embody because at its core, WeCare serves to connect and empower networks of multiple caregivers. The app's illustrations and iconography harnesses the same voice to promote a cohesive experience.
After moving our iterated wireframes to higher fidelity, we compiled a spec document that could be passed off to developers to create the application. Below is a sample of the content we included in this document: interaction models depicting user paths through key features in WeCare.
At the end of our 12 weeks working with Premera, we presented our concept to designers and executives at the company and fielded questions about our process. We closed our presentation detailing what we would work on next if given more time.
Explore the concept of allowing caregivings to be part of multiple networks within the application
As of now, a caregiver can only be part of one network. What about situations where a caregiver may be involved in two distinct networks? Within our time restraint of ten weeks, we decided not to tackle this problem much further. But this would be a priority with future explorations.
Expand the user model to include care recipients as well
Our interviews with caregivers revealed something important: the care recipient’s opinion always needs to be valued and respected in all aspects of the caregiving experience. Currently WeCare doesn’t fully embrace this mentality, because we don’t include a user model for care recipients. This would be another priority in the future.
It's okay to pivot; adaptability is an important skill.
After user testing our wireframes, we realized our approach with WeCare was missing the mark. Initially, a large pivot in our designs seemed intimidating to undertake in a short timeframe, but ultimately, it was crucial in creating something of value for our users.
In all future work, I will strive to embody an openness to change if it's for the betterment of our designs.
Testing with potential users is critical for meeting real, human needs
Had we not spent time sitting down with caregivers to test our first version of WeCare, we would not have discovered the ways in which it was failing to clearly meet their needs. It was through this process of iteration that I realized again the importance of testing in the design process.