An estimated 117 million Americans have one or more chronic health conditions. In addition to above 60% of worldwide deaths are due to chronic diseases. These chronic conditions are mostly related to lifestyle or habit, and require pills and procedures to help control the condition.
Vital is a digital behaviour change program that has been designed to help patients form new habits. For patients with chronic conditions, who struggle with the challenges of changing their lifestyle habits. Vital will work in sync with a certified health coach to empower them and keep them motivated and on track with their new care plan.
Design Research, User Experience, Systems Thinking, UI Design
A chronic condition is a health condition or disease that is persistent or otherwise long-lasting in its effects. The term chronic is often applied when the course of the condition lasts for more than 3 months.
Chronic conditions are generally incurable, such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes.These diseases are often preventable, and otherwise manageable through early detection, improved diet, exercise, and treatment therapy.
Health damaging behaviours - lack of physical activity, and poor eating habits - are major contributors to the leading chronic diseases.
Understanding the patient experience
To better understand the struggles of managing chronic conditions I interviewed 8 patients who had been diagnosed with chronic conditions. The interviews helped me to map out the typical user journey from pre-diagnosis to management.
Through the interviews I was also able to identify key insights and opportunity areas.
Patients struggle with condition management, especially making lifestyle changes .
Patients are not fully aware of their conditions or care plan.
Understanding the system
To better understand the system I studied chronic care management systems on how they are used to help patients. I also did a market analysis to study the current competition.
Patients find the chronic care management plans difficult to comprehend.
Health apps designed for chronic care patients are struggling to engage patients
How might we improve the chronic care management experience by engaging and empowering patients to take charge or their own health?
Patient behaviour change is key for chronic condition management
Through my patient interviews I was also able to map out what are the main components that should be included when going through a lifestyle change - medication, physical activity, food. In most conditions there was some form of medication that the patient was prescribed. They were also advised to make changes to their physical activity and their food consumption
Understanding Habit Formation
Habit formation is the process by which new behaviours become automatic. It takes time to form a new habit. Every habit we have — good or bad — follows the same 3–step pattern:
Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behaviour)
Routine (the behaviour itself; the action you take)
Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behaviour)
Synthesising all the research into the strategy for this project revealed the 2 major opportunity areas that I decided to pursue:
After diagnosis patients lack awareness of their condition and care plan
Forming new habits and making a lifestyle change is difficult and patients lack motivation to follow them
To address these opportunity areas I started ideating a platform that would help patients develop healthy habits. I started by designing for these 2 features:
Onboarding: setting up goals and introduction to the system
Dashboard: goals management and progress tracking
Vital phone application
The on-boarding of the system introduces the user to Vital, takes them through all the features of the platform.
Once they sign up and activate their account with their medical ID, the user can go through their health profile and care plan set up by their medical provider.
The user can see their health goals and the suggested activities to achieve those goals. They can either choose from the suggested list or add their own. The system allows patients to set up new activities and change the reminder notification settings for each activity.
The dashboard shows the progress the patient is making through their daily completion of activities.