Lyme disease treatment insights
1st place winner at Lyme Innovation Hackathon
There's no one treatment for chronic Lyme disease. Dealing with all the options can be overwhelming for both patients and healthcare providers. Lyme Innovation's hackathon challenged us to design a tool that would help.
Our team consisted of 2 MBA candidates, a backend programmer, and me: the UX researcher + frontend designer. In 18 hours, we got through a complete cycle of the Stanford d.School design process.
Interview Lyme doctors, Lyme patients, and non-Lyme professionals
Lyme disease patients told us about mysterious symptoms, lingering disabilities, and doctors who told them they were making it all up. They talked about the difficulty of stacking lots of treatments on top of their other obligations -- all while dealing with an illness that saps their energy and makes it hard to think clearly.
Lyme disease specialists at the hackathon talked about the difficulty of understanding patients' nonspecific, ever-changing symptoms and of figuring out whether their treatments are making a difference.
Healthcare provider friends talked about the value of symptom tracking data, and said they'd be "ecstatic" if they could have this info in a standardized, secure format.
Focus on symptom tracking and Electronic Health Records
From our interviews we selected the pain points to tackle:
- Sometimes lack the energy or mental clarity to keep up with treatments and symptom tracking
- Need to coordinate treatments among multiple providers (primary care, specialists, nurses, bodyworkers, etc)
- Can lose hope because it's hard to tell if their treatments are working
- Don't see patients often enough to get a clear picture
- Have to test out what works for each patient, but don't have time to review all the data
- Need patient-generated data to be compatible with their Electronic Health Record system (EHR)
Lyme doctors and patients have difficulty keeping track of their treatments and determining whether their symptoms are changing. Patients find tracking burdensome and confusing, and doctors can't get the data in a form they need.
Develop a flexible, low-burden app for tracking symptoms and treatments. Make data exportable and use standards for integrating with doctors' existing electronic health records.
Brainstorm and prioritize
We looked at existing symptom trackers, talked with doctors more, and started figuring out our features.
EHR integration isn't needed for our testable MVP, but it's critical to the eventual survival of the product. In the future when we present to judges and investors, we'll need to be able to demo this functionality even if it's not built into the product.
Get the two big features into feedback-ready form
Each day users see a list of symptoms to rate. Their most common or severe symptoms show up more frequently and with higher priority. If they can only deal with giving us one rating in a day, we still get the most important information.
The user can chart their symptoms over time, compared to changes in their treatment. We automatically detect associations and provide suggestions about possible relationships.
I created a high-fidelity prototype to help gather feedback from care providers.
Get feedback from patients, specialists, and healthcare providers
We tested the symptoms rating screen with a few patients and doctors. They found it intuitive and loved the severity icons.
We showed the insights screen to Lyme doctors and non-Lyme healthcare professionals (therapists, doctors, and nurses). They were excited by the clarity of the symptom-treatment relationships and the possibility of automated insights.
The final test was the hackathon judging panel. They felt that it was something patients would really want to use! Like the other doctors, they were excited -- but skeptical -- about our ability to create automated insights. We agree that this part is speculative. We're looking forward to getting some real tracking data and experimenting.
Next steps: Prototyping, validation, and round 2!
We're proceeding to the next round of the competition in Boston on June 18. Until then, we'll be validating. The Lyme doctors we met at the hackathon are eager to share a test version of the app with their patients.
I'll be sketching out the rest of the app and talking to patients. We need to make sure that our app's affordances match up with the experiences and treatments they really need to track. My teammates will be nailing down our dissemination plan and preparing a technical demo of our privacy and EHR integration features. Look for an update soon!