Today there are over 46.2 million adults aged 65 and older in the United States and by 2060, that number is expected to double to 98 million. Nearly 92% of these older adults have at least one chronic condition, and 77% have at least two.
Although transforming the pharmacy experience for seniors on multiple medications has been the subject of over 50 research studies, articles, and products, the pharmacy experience for their caregivers has never improved. The struggles of 40.4 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S. who take care of adults ages 65 and older is real.
In October 2018, Premera sponsored 5 projects at the University of Washington to identify an existing opportunities to improve the pharmacy experience for caregivers and propose a solution in 3 months.
Visual and Interaction Design
Sketching and Wireframing
Lead Product Designer
Oct 2018 — Dec 2018
Today, there are 40.4 million unpaid caregivers like June, who take care of adults ages 65 and older.
But, how did we get here?
Customer & market research
Caregivers do not trust medication information given by pharmacists and practitioners.
People don’t actively seek medication information even if the information is available.
There is a lack of constant access to medication information.
There is a lack of knowledge about caregiver’s rights, options for medication, and policies.
I analyzed the existing products that are used by patients and caregivers to facilitate the process of decision making in prescription management.
The following products were 2 of the most popular products used by patients and caregivers to improve their experience with the pharmacies.
In addition, I connected with the caregivers of seniors and asked them about their experiences with pharmacies on AgingCare and Caregiver Action Network forums. As a result, we received 17 responses.
“ I feel like the worst daughter. Lately, as the idea sets in that she could not function alone in her home, I feel depressed and cry suddenly.. ”
- A daughter taking care of her mom who is suffering from Alzheimer
Caregivers believe that providing efficient information about changes in the medications and policies by the insurance companies, help develop a better understanding of the medication management process.
Caregivers think that the insurance company could play a more important role in providing easy and effective access to the medication.
Many of the caregivers that take care of their senior loved ones with severe illnesses feel mentally and physically drained.
As one of our probes, I created a booklet with activities and questions designed to understand the emotions that caregivers go through. Caregivers were asked to draw themselves and their loved one (1). We also asked the following questions: “I care because…” (2), “It is sometimes frustrating for me to…” (3), and “I wish I had more…” (4). Lastly, we asked participants to pick three wishes from a set of cards (4).
My goal was to allow caregivers to think of their loved ones and remember how that makes them feel while answering the questions. I wanted to gain a sense of their emotional needs.
What did we learn?
Additionally, we conducted 12 interviews by recruiting participants through online forums and facebook groups.
Based on our findings, I formed the following three main design principles specifically for our challenge and design.
Simplify the pharmacy experience for caregivers. Do not add complexity to the process because they are already dealing with a lot of stress.
Caregivers and seniors should be able to interact with the design response easily.
Present the information in a transparent and credible fashion.
Customers are not aware that they have more affordable options or alternatives to the medicines they have been prescribed.
Customers are not aware that different pharmacies have different pricing structures for the same medication.
Customers are not aware of which medicines are covered by their insurance till they reach the pharmacy.
Providing access to insurance coverage information and create awareness about alternatives to
I used the Crazy Eights and 2x2 methods to come up with 90 concepts.
I organized the concepts by grouping complementary and/or similar concepts, and categorized them under:
To narrow down our concepts, we used the
six thinking hats activity
1. Pharmacy Chatbot
2. Premera Kiosk
3. Custom Prescriptions
Top 3 concepts
According to the following selection criteria that was derived from the desired outcomes by me, the concept of Custom Prescriptions was chosen as the proposed solution.
Does it provide reliable information?
Is the information easy to consume and understand?
Does it provide better alternatives and options? Does it provide personalized coverage information?
Does it give access to caregivers?
We are addressing the scenario generics are allowed by the PCP. In this case the pharmacist is permitted to switch brand name to the FDA approved generic.
We are limiting suggested medicine alternatives to address patient’s personal needs and to reduce the pressure of making the right choice for the caregivers.
Low-fi prototype testing
We took the low-fi prototype to the UW Medicine and asked 7 caregivers and patients to test our concept.
“ Pretty straight forward and seamless.
Definitely better than the phone call. ”
- A 22 year-old caregiver
Almost all participants found the flows easy to follow and straightforward. However, through testing the following improvements that needed to be made were identified:
We needed to provide comparable information about the alternative drugs that are displayed.
We had to use the generic names of the drugs for easy identification.
Existing information about the previous pharmacies they have used should be easily available to use for subsequent refills.
The mood-board was created by me with the goal of empowering caregivers and reassuring them that they can make smart choices.
Hi-fi prototype testing
For high-fi prototyping, we used a modular design to control the complexity of the app by dividing it into different modules. Furthermore, to provide the needed flexibility in order to deliver the needed functionalities and components we developed a layered architecture.
Add a Caregiver
Let's be unique...
We presented the final product to our sponsors at the Premera headquarter and received multiple of positive feedback about the concept and its architecture.
However, after the final presentation I decided to redesign the interface in order to make it more engaging, fun, and unique for caregivers, because they deserve the best!
Moreover, I wanted to challenge myself by redesigning the "cards" and creating a new interface that can more strongly follow our visual system and information architecture. For future, I would like to do more rounds of testing to evaluate this newly designed interface.
The American healthcare system is broken!
With more than 318k healthcare applications, the traditional healthcare system has not been able to effectively follow the fast pace of technology to address the current needs of its target audience.
The relationship between caregivers, pharmacies, and doctors can be improved by establishing a transparent means of communication and advocating mutual support between each of these three groups.
Caregivers are underprepared to on-demand decision making and require insurance coverage information and medication options to make educated choices that meets the patient’s needs.
As a designer who was working in the tech industry before joining the MHCI+D program, I enjoyed the freedom and flexibility of design projects in academia.
This project improved my visual skills and enabled me to effectively confront unexpected changes and risks in a design process. I learned how to evaluate the findings more effectively and make changes that support business goals.
Sharing my knowledge about business and project management, as well as explaining the technical requirements of the project improved my communication skills and allowed me to easily work with a team of diverse professionals with different backgrounds and skill sets.