Recruitment, Interviewing, Generation of Insights, Ideation and Concept Selection, Information Architecture, Wireframing, Prototyping, Project Management
Premera Blue Cross
Premera Blue Cross serves more than 2 millions people with health insurance in the Pacific Northwest. The MHCI+D program teamed up with designers at Premera to research and develop technology solutions for a subset of their customers: caregivers. My team was asked specifically to scope our project toward bettering the pharmaceutical experience for this audience.
Add caregivers and loved ones to the WeCare network to stay organized and informed, together.
Create med lists for your loved ones that your caregiving network can view and update.
Manage the access permissions of temporary caregivers like babysitters or respite nurses.
Attach refill tasks to medicines for caregivers in the network to complete
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 phase of secondary research, we became fascinated with the phenomenon of shared care across networks of relatives, friends, and professional help.
After our literature review, we designed four cultural probe activities and wrote a semi-structured interview guide for caregivers. We conducted these activities with five Seattle caregivers to gain a better understanding of how caregiving networks form and operate as well as what might help them become more unified and effective.
From our research, we synthesized four main insights to inform the rest of our design activities.
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)
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)
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)
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)
We each proposed around thirty concepts using design methods including 2x2's and Crazy 8's. We met with a Premera rep to discuss the viability and desirability of these concepts which helped us narrow to our twenty best candidates.
With the help of Premera designers and studio critique, we down-selected to three concepts.
Automatic Medication Scanner
An application that allows caregivers to create automated medicine administration reminders. It also checks for medication interactions and creates refill appointments by scanning prescription labels, streamlining medicinal management.
Encrypted Caregiver Card
An extension of the Premera ID card that securely stores loved ones medicinal information onto a caregivers ID card. Caregivers could gain confidence knowing they will always have up-to-date information.
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 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 tested our paper prototype with six caregivers. We asked them to use the think-aloud protocol to let us better understand their thoughts and reactions to our concept. Our main takeaways helped us refine and clarify the purpose of our product while also revealing a desire for support of more potential caregiving network configurations.
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 as well
Centralized location for information management and collaboration is appreciated
Transparency of task completion encourages involvement and helps networks stay organized
We sat with these learnings for a bit. Together, we realized WeCare was attempting to wear too many hats for caregivers. Our initial inclusion of a “tasks” panels in which our users could assign and complete caregiving related tasks within their network was straying from our desired outcome. To ensure our concept met our vision of empowering caregivers to confidently manage medicinal information, we revisited our information architecture.
I took lead with strategizing how information should be structured and organized within WeCare. First, we created a diagram depicting a caregiving network of personas. This helped us contextualize our other diagramming activities like making swimlane diagrams, creating interaction models and a sitemap.
I then created swimlane diagrams explaining user flows within a network and how
thy might interact with each other over time. These diagrams were helpful amidst
various decision making points in our process.
We referenced them often, asking questions like 'How does this feature fit into a caregiving network's flow of everyday use? Does it ever cause a disruptive or unnecessary switch of context to another network member?"
Creating moodboards helped us form an approachable and friendly visual identity for WeCare. These traits were important for us to embody because at its core, WeCare serves to connect and empower networks of multiple caregivers.
Javan created a cohesive family of illustrations that will anchor users into WeCare's purpose and capabilities through the onboarding experience. Our iconography harnesses the same styling for a cohesive experience.
At the end of our 10 weeks working with Premera to develop technology solutions for caregivers, we presented our concept to designers and executives at the company and fielded questions about our process. We left them with the following key takeaways:
Sharing caregiving responsibilities across a network of individuals
is healthy and efficient
Centralizing medication information increases caregiver confidence
I loved working with and for caregivers on this project. Exploring
their experiences with the pharmaceutical industry was initially intimidating.
We had to hit the ground running with research, attempting to wrap our
heads around the intricacies of this complicated U.S. system. I experienced
a lot of growth through interacting with caregivers while still in the
process of mastering fundamental knowledge of this project space.
Ten weeks pass quickly, and adaptability is important. When we make
compromises due to constraints (time, money, resources) we need to
think carefully about how those decisions affect our data and design choices.
I enjoyed getting my hands into the messy system design problem of serving many different configurations of caregiving networks. WeCare v1 scratches the surface of what’s possible, but as a side project I’m putting some thought into how this could expand to serve more realistic use cases of this demographic.